Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Reason Why Tuesdays Are Election Days

David Broder discusses today (Washington Post) a group formed by Andrew Young, Carter's former ambassador to the U.N., called "Why Tuesday?." Young's group is lobbying to change election days in the United States to the weekend so that more working Americans can get to the polls.

I doubt this effort will come to success, 200 years of inertia is not easily overcome.

The reason I am discussing this at all is that Broder includes a brief history of how Tuesday got selected in the first place:

And why Tuesday? The debates from the time tell us that Tuesday was deemed the most convenient day for what was then a largely rural society. Saturday was a workday on the farm. Sunday was the Lord's day, not to be profaned with partisanship. But it took a day for many farmers to reach the county seat in those horse-and-buggy times, so Monday was out as well. Tuesday or Wednesday would let them vote and return home in time for the weekend. But Wednesday was market day for many communities, so Tuesday it became by process of elimination.

You learn something new every day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll see that theory on why Tuesday.

But why the first Tuesday in November (unless the 1st is the first).

My theory is that it is the start of serious cold and the beginning of the holiday season.

You can't get Americans to come out without heated buses after November except the hardiest and most brave--unless of course they are affluent and the destination is Florida. That worked out well for the party in power in 2000.

Masses of people didn't just pop up in Ohio last year.

There have been calls for earlier elections for decades, but after 2 major Democratic Senatorial candidates were killed in October in campaign related flights in 2 years, I'm sure those in power now will never change that date.

11/15/2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


You make a good point about the weather being a factor in the choice of month.

Can you imagine some people's nightmare if election day came in the middle of the long hot summer?

Another reason for November, if recent history gives any hint, may have something to do with it coming conveniently after the first Monday in October.

11/15/2005 12:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home