Why We Vote on Tuesday

Jan 9, 2008 5:32pm

ABC News’ Lauren Effron Reports: Tuesday is typically a day regarded as part of the regular grind — unless it’s an Election year. Then it’s one of the busiest and the most inconvenient days of the year.

With each passing term, Americans are forced to work their biggest civic duty — casting their vote — into their busy schedules, having to plan well in advance scheduling for babysitters, leaving work and fighting traffic to get the polls on time and making sure the polling place has their registration on file.

It’s almost the same amount of effort put into a dinner date. So why is engaging in the democratic process such a chore? Well, blame the crops.

According to ABC affiliate KMGH 7 News out in Denver, Congress made the decision to have Election Day on "the Tuesday after the first Monday of November" back in 1845.

They cite www.WhyTuesday.org, who reports America’s economy was mainly agricultural in those days and Tuesday was the most convenient day for farmers and field hands.

Going from your house to your polling station and back again in the mid-1800s could take three days, and Congress didn’t want travel to interfere with religious observances on the weekend. So Monday, Thursday and Friday were out.

During that time, Wednesday was typically Market Day in this country, so we were left with Tuesday.

According to the 2000 Census, around 80 percent of Americans live in urban or suburb areas, and a 2003 Census study found the average American spends more than 100 hours — or 4.7 days — commuting to work each year. We may not need three days to go to our polling locations anymore, but our lives are busy.

The WhyTuesday.org Web site mentions that voter turnout has dropped to 50 percent or less since 1945, which begs many of us to ask the question — doesn’t Election Day need an upgrade?

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