Washington Matters


Voting on Tuesdays is Plain Silly


It's as modern as the buggy whip and should just go. Voting on Tuesday, a tradition that dates back to when the U.S. was largely agrarian, needs to be updated to address modern American life. Here's my plan.

First some quick background: Voting on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November dates back to 1845. Congress set the date largely to accomodate farmers who where accustomed to travel by horse and wagon from their distant farms after the fall harvest to participate in city market events on Wednesdays. A related reason was to allow three days of uninterrupted worship following All Souls Day, Nov. 1 on the Roman Catholic calendar.

In recognition of the rhythms and demands of modern life, a much better plan would be to allow three days of voting, from Friday through Sunday, keeping it in early November since we're used to that now. It would allow more flexibility for people who feel tied to their offices on Tuesday or need to pick up a child after work or go to the pharmacy before work, etc. 

About the only people who would be against it, I bet, would be the people doing the exit polls. But who cares if they have to work longer?

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There's a small bipartisan voter-reform group trying to spur talk about changing the voting day and updating the whole voting process, but it hasn't got the recognition it deserves. It's called "Why Tuesday?" Led by former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, the voter advocacy group's mission statement is "Fixing Our Voting System, One Question at a Time." The hayseed tradition of Tuesday voting in November is only one of the archaic practices they want to change.

 




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