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Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Happy Iowa Caucus day! It seems like ages ago we set out to get all of the 2012 presidential candidates on the record about how they’d protect your right to vote. Tonight we’ll find out who will win the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus. But why vote today, a Tuesday? That’s exactly the question I answer in an op-ed on CNN.com:

The short answer: We vote on Tuesday for absolutely no good reason. This is true especially when you consider the United States, arguably the world’s most famous democracy, has ranked near the bottom of all nations in voter participation for more than half a century. And that’s not because, as Mitt Romney suggested to me last month, we need great candidates to increase voter turnout. Heard of JFK? Reagan?

The little-bit-longer answer: We vote on Tuesday because of a law passed in 1845 meant to make voting convenient for Americans traveling by horse and buggy. Seriously. When Congress set out to pick a day for Americans to vote, ultimately settling on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, voting could take two days: a day to get to the county seat to vote and a day to get back for market day on Wednesday. They couldn’t travel on the Christian sabbath, so by process of elimination, Tuesday, the first convenient day of the week, was chosen. It was as simple as that.

You can read the whole op-ed at CNN.com, and after you’re done, we hope you’ll sign our petition in support of weekend voting.

With your help, we can and will continue our work to protect your right to vote.

5 Responses to “Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason.”

  1. Keith Cunningham Says:

    I thought this was a site to encourage ideas to improve voting turn out, but it seems to be one to get people to sign your petition. Why move it from one day to only restrict it to another? I like having voting over the course of 2 weeks. That way western states still matter. That way if you have a restrictive schedule you have options. That way the polls are not huge lines all the time. I also want to see fully automated voting – we have the technology now, we should use it.

  2. Bernie Says:

    I am all for changing the voting day to a Saturday or Sunday, but that may not be the best answer. Why not make election day a Monday and a paid holiday? That way we get another three day weekend, but you don’t get paid for the holiday unless you show your employer proof that you voted. That should increase voter turnout!

  3. Gregory Wahl Says:

    Hate to make this a partisan issue, but Republicans as a whole will never agree to weekend voting, because any prospect of greater voter turnout necessarily helps the party with greater registration numbers– namely, Democrats. In most any election, high turnout signals higher percentages for Democrats, while lower turnout generally means more Democrats and independents have stayed away from the polls, not necessarily that all partisans are staying away equally.

    Weekend voting for higher turnout is an admirable cause, especially if couched in patriotic rhetoric about voter participation as a democratic cornerstone, but in the end it will be shot down by any Republican worth his conservative salt.

  4. Mark K Says:

    Some states already implement ‘2 week voting’ as early voting.

    It is still valuable to have the final days as official voting days because of the tendency to procrastinate. I agree that Tuesdays no longer necessarily make sense unless we make Voting Day a national holiday. Short of that weekend voting at least gives working people plenty of time to vote.

    I do not agree with fully automated voting. While we should use technology to facilitate voting, we need to make sure the voting is accessible, fully supervised, and auditable.

  5. Cooper K Says:

    @Gregory Wahl

    It seems to me that’s the ultimate goal of his plan to move voting to the weekends.

    Though I’m still not convinced with the advent of ESPN, heck the invention of television/internet, that anyone who’s not voting on a Tuesday now will be more inclined to vote on a weekend day.

    Think about it, if you’re schedule is SO busy on a Tuesday you can’t vote, why would you want to give up the “You” time you have on the weekends?

About Us

Why Tuesday? is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections... More

The Answer

In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote... More

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