Why Do We Vote on a Tuesday?

There is absolutely no good reason that we vote on a Tuesday in this country, at least according to a nonprofit group that wants to move Election Day to the weekend.

A very old federal law (we're talking 1845) introduced our tradition of electing the president on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

"In 1845, Americans traveled by horse and buggy. It took a day or longer to get to the county seat to vote, a day to get back, and you couldn't travel on the Sabbath. So Tuesday it was," Why Tuesday Executive Director Jacob Soboroff told the audience at a TED-Ed talk earlier this year (full disclosure: Soboroff has also contributed stories to KCET).

The idea behind the law was to give farmers enough time to get to town and vote without interfering with a religious holiday. The rules simply haven't been updated since then.

But in March, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) re-introduced a bill from the previous congressional session that would allow voters to cast their ballots any time between Saturday morning and Sunday evening.

If it passes, someone, some day, is sure to ask, "Why Sunday?"

About the Author

Web Editor for SoCal Connected, KCET's award-winning television newsmagazine. He has worked in just about every medium, with stories appearing on TV, radio, Web, and print. He is also the editor of the Online Journalism Review at ...
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