Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
Why do we vote on Tuesdays? The US Constitution does not mandate that federal elections take place on Tuesday. In 1845 federal law established Election Day as the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. At that time most eligible voters were rural workers and landowners. By November the harvest was over and the weather was likely to still be good for travel. They would have to travel to the county seat in order to vote, this trip could take a day or more each way. Most farmers worked on Saturday and Sunday was for worship. Tuesdays became the day of choice because most were traveling to the county seat for the Markets held on Wednesdays.
But today most of us do not live in rural areas; we don’t have to travel long distances to vote. Tuesday is a workday for most voters. We have work, childcare and chores to balance with finding time to vote. The non-partisan group Why Tuesday? Has raised the question as to whether voting on Tuesday makes since in our busy lives. While they do not advocate a specific solution they want to spark a debate on the subject. To draw attention to this issue they are offering a bounty to anyone who videotapes himself asking a politician, “Why do we vote on Tuesdays?” They are paying three hundred dollars for a current US House member, five hundred dollars for a US Senator or Governor, two thousand, five hundred for a past or current Vice President, and five thousand for a past or current President.
Twenty-three year old, Jacob Soboroff heard about the contest from a friend who saw it on the Internet. He and a former college roommate searched the web for public appearances of political candidates. They crashed political events and confronted four senators, one governor and a house member with the question. So far they have managed to earn two thousand, eight hundred dollars. Founder of Why Tuesday?, New York attorney William Wachtell see this as a fun way to get candidates talking about the issue of voter reform.
Republican pollster Ed Goeas, found in a poll he conducted for Why Tuesday? That fifty seven percent would support “drop-by” voting, that gives voters up to three weeks to cast their votes at secure polling stations. Fifty-six percent would support voting by mail for several weeks before the election. Forty-nine percent would support half day or paid leave from work to go vote. Forty six percent would support a national voting holiday. Forty-five percent would support switching elections to the weekends. Thirty-one percent would support online voting.
While ninety-four percent of adults consider voting a civic duty, since 1945 we have only had about fifty percent voter turnout for elections. Forty-eight percent of eighteen to thirty-four year olds, thirty nine percent of working women and forty-one percent of singles say they would be more likely to vote if elections were moved to the weekend. Voting on the weekend would enable more parents to bring their children with them to the polls. This can be an important civics lesson and role model for young people.
Voting is our way of having a voice in how our government works. It is our right and civic duty to choose who will represent us in our community, state and country. Every vote does count. California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas and Washington all became states by one vote. In 1948 Lyndon Johnson became a Senator by one vote margin. In 1960, one more vote in each precinct in Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Texas, would have resulted in Richard Nixon becoming president instead of John F. Kennedy. One vote can change history. Finding ways to include all citizens in the process of choosing our representatives should be a non-partisan goal sough by all.