Today is Super Tuesday. Again.
Millions of people in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio will have the opportunity today to vote in their presidential primaries. Hundreds of delegates are at stake and, after the polls close, we’ll have an even clearer vision of who might be in the running to lead this country for the next four years.
As weird as this particular election season has been, there’s one question about our democratic process that consistently comes up every election:
Why the hell do we vote on Tuesdays?
It’s strange because Tuesday is, you know … Tuesday. It’s a work day. It’s also kind of the worst one. Tuesday is like Monday, but you don’t even get to blame your grumpiness, lethargy, and under eye circles on “The Mondays.”
You see, back in 1845 (before California was a state and the Civil War was barely a twinkle in Daniel Day-Lewis’ eye), farmers needed a day to travel to their local statehouse by horse and buggy.
Plus a day to vote, hang out, and drink some of that old-timey XXX whiskey, and a day to travel back. They didn’t want to interfere with days of worship, and Wednesday was market day, so they settled on Tuesday.
Nowadays, voting on Tuesday is way more of an inconvenience than anything.
Tuesday is rough for me, and my biggest responsibility is usually restocking on cereal.
It’s a substantially bigger problem for people with families, kids that have to go from school to soccer practice, jobs that lock you in all day, and just enough time to put dinner on the table before falling asleep to “The Voice.”
Tuesday voting is more than just a weird historical anomaly. It actively makes voting harder for millions of people.
And let’s face it, voter turnout in this country is already pretty bad. In fact, according to some estimates, we’re behind 30 other countries in terms of voter participation.
Many countries, including Belgium, Turkey, and Australia, even have laws that make voting required and failing to participate is punishable with a fine.
That’s because participating in democracy is not only important, it’s essential to how the whole thing works.
There are plenty of actions and decisions that have made voting harder. Maybe it’s time for one that makes it easier.
A lot of people have called for Election Day to become a national holiday, including current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who said it “would indicate a national commitment to create a vibrant democracy.”
It would give more people a chance to vote and make the democratic process way more accessible.
We don’t need to go as far as a fine if you fail to cast your ballot, but if we can make a national holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus, we can make a national holiday celebrating democracy. Next to fried food and Bill Withers, it’s one of the best things about America.
Plus we’d get to sleep in on a Tuesday. And that’s the real prize isn’t it?