Why Does The U.S. Vote On Tuesdays?

Why Does The U.S. Vote On Tuesdays?


America’s voter turnout trails
most other peer democracies. At 55 percent, even in a
presidential election year, that turnout rate ranked 26 out of 35 other
nations, below Mexico and Greece. One of the reasons could be that voting
in America is on a Tuesday, a weekday, and that can be a hassle. According to surveys conducted
by the U.S. Census Bureau, many people don’t vote because
they are either too busy or have conflicting work
or school schedules. By comparison, many other countries with
higher turnout rates vote on weekends or holidays. Why, then, doesn’t the U.S. just vote on weekends
or holidays too? The answer goes back to 1792, when
America’s Congress set out to personify the country’s new constitution into
a set of laws. When it came to setting up
elections that Congress designated a multi-week period roughly spanning the
month of November. They chose November because farmers would
be busy with planting and harvest in the Spring,
Summer and early Fall. While cold weather would prevent people
from turning out in the Winter. Beyond that, though, Congress left it up
to the states, allowing them to take their own needs into account
when setting up specific dates. This setup made sense when you think
about the geography of the United States at that time. This was a massive and rugged country
connected via a network of patchy, unpaved roads. It took information a long
time to travel from one place to another and might vary
greatly state by state. But as economic and technological progress
began to bring the country closer together during the first half
of the eighteen hundreds, fears began to emerge that results in
states with earlier elections could start impacting how people voted in
states with later elections. In 1845, Congress moved to designate
one day for presidential elections and believe it or not, they were
looking for a day everyone could take off. Sunday wouldn’t work because
it would interfere with religious activities. Monday would have worked because
many farmers would need a day to travel to polling places. But Tuesday made sense. Citizens could travel on Monday, vote Tuesday,
then be back home in time for market day on Wednesday. So Tuesday it was. As the country evolved over the past
175 years, though that day picked for its agrarian convenience, created
problems of its own. Tuesday is really inconvenient day for a
lot of people because a lot of people work on the weekdays. Imagine a person wakes up, drops off
their kids at school, goes to work, picks up their kids that day care
can be a really full day. And finding time to get to a polling
station in the middle of all that can be really tricky for a lot of people. Even though many employers are required by
state laws to give time off for voting, laws vary state by state
and employees can still feel informal pressure to skip voting. I think that there are a lot
of people who don’t vote because it’s difficult because something comes up and it’s
hard for them to find time. In a Washington Post op ed
arguing for holiday voting, Harvard Professor Michael McFaul and Stanford Professor
Adam Bonica outlined this disparity. Drawing from census data, they argue
the highest turnout comes from salaried professionals with flexible work
schedules such as lawyers, educators and executives. While the lowest turnout comes from hourly
paid workers in service jobs in restaurants and retail. For those working people who do vote,
the cost can be very real. M.I.T political scientist Charles Stewart
estimates waiting in line collectively cost 2012 voters about
$500 million in lost wages. Tuesday voting may also increase wait time
for many voters at the polls. For most people, the most convenient times
to vote on Tuesday tend to be either in the morning before work
or in the evening after work. And some polling stations tend to have
pretty long lines when they first open and right before they close. Whereas in the middle of the day they
tend to be a lot more empty. Those lines also disproportionately impact
lower income and minority communities. According to research by
Steven Pettigrew at University of Pittsburgh, voting lines are about
twice as long and predominantly minority communities and minority voters are
six times as likely to wait longer than an hour to vote. Moving elections to weekends or holidays
could help alleviate some of these issues. So if everybody had the day off, it
would be a lot easier for people to find the time to vote. It would
also change the pattern of voting. People’s schedules are going to be spread
out a lot more evenly throughout the day, so that could be shorter
times to go about when people actually do go to the polling sites. It would increase the availability of
poll workers, and especially if we have it as a national holiday, it
would create sort of a civic spirit. It would give us the opportunity to
really spread that civic duty in all of those social norms which have
been shown to really increase turnout. But experts remain lukewarm on whether
pursuing reform is actually a good idea, noting some of the very people the
idea was meant to help might not even have weekends or holidays off. There’s a lot of people that have
to work on these national holidays and they tend to be lower
income, underrepresented, disadvantaged groups, people who are working minimum wage,
people who are working hourly jobs. A U.S. government report commissioned by
Congress that looked into the possibility of holding elections on weekends
also outlined a variety of potential logistical issues. Most election officials interviewed actually said
it would be harder to find poll workers and
polling locations on weekends. It turns out many pool volunteers are
county employees being paid for a full day’s work for high school
students being offered exemptions from class. Many polling locations are
also churches with weekend worship services or schools
with weekend events. Surveyed officials worried those locations might
be harder to reserve and access. Finally, the cost of paying
staff overtime for weekend work and potentially holding the elections over two
days to not interfere with any one denominations. Religious services could
present major cost increases. Officials who had already held local
and primary elections on weekends also noted that poll workers were simply
less likely to show up on Saturday or Sunday. In addition to that report, experts on
voting lines have voiced their own concerns. I do think that there’s merit
in some of those reforms moving to a weekend or a big national holiday,
but probably not going to impact the lines. Lines these experts say aren’t
as prevalent as people tend to think. There’s a perception out there
that they are a widespread problem. And I do think the media is very
good at finding a line and putting those lines on television and and
focusing on the problems. I don’t think the
perception of the reality. My organization, the Bipartisan Policy Center,
decided to figure out a way to actually get the
precinct level data. What we saw was, lines are not
necessarily a widespread problem, but where they are problems that
can be very severe. And we also know that the impact of
long lines is not spread evenly across races or income. Still, even in places with severe line
problems, it’s unclear if the cause is voting on a workday with
the Bipartisan Policy Centers Research citing everything from funding to precinct
size and location, poll workers, voting machine, technical issues, timing of
voter arrival and even ballot length as causes for long lines. And as the U.S. continues to grapple
with questions of how systemic racial discrimination might relate to closure
of polling stations in and diversion of election resources away
from minority communities, simply changing when voting occurs leaves
those larger structural issues in place. There’s also academic pushback
on the notion that weekend and holiday voting in many
other countries with higher turnout rates offers proof that Tuesday
voting in the U.S. suppresses turnout. There’s so many other differences between
the United States and those countries, so it’s hard to
determine which particular factors are affecting the lower levels of
turnout in the U.S. The voter turnout does appear
lower than other countries. I take some issue with whether or
not we are all calculating turnout in the same way. We have many more
elections than other countries in the world. We’re holding
primary elections. We’re holding general elections. We’ve got midterm elections. We’ve got local elections. So part of the difference that we’re
seeing here is people, the United States have so many opportunities to
participate that they just decide to pick and choose which elections
they’re going to participate in. There’s also questions over whether widespread
low turnout is still a major problem in the US. Over the past two cycles, especially
within relatively high turnout, I mean, turnout during the 2018 election
nationally was the highest in almost a century for
a mid-term election. So I do think that
we are doing better. There used to be a big issue. What’s happened over the last 15 years
or so is that American turnout for presidential elections and last time for
midterms has gone up a lot. And most other countries that don’t
have compulsory voting has gone down. That’s not to say there
isn’t still usually a gap. But it’s not a
huge turnout problem anymore. And that’s largely because people are
more interested and excited by and about politics. In other words, low
turnout may be more about civic engagement than the day of the week. Even so, no matter how much you do
to make voting easier, many experts say a certain percentage of the
population simply won’t vote. The biggest reason people don’t
vote because they’re not interested. Australia has compulsory voting. 10 percent of the people break the law
by not voting and 5 percent spoil their ballots. In a place where elections
are held on a Saturday, where you can vote by mail beforehand, where you
can go to a pre polling place and vote in person beforehand. There’s just people who don’t want to
do this, and it’s very hard for people who do want to
do it to understand that. But it’s real. But in America, where
you have to register in order to vote, turnout is in the 86
percent range for registered voters, meaning making it easier to register
or just automatically registering everyone might boost turnout more than
weekend or holiday voting. There are a number of states that
required you to register 30 days before an election, and that can be problematic
because for a lot of people that might not think about the election
until the weeks before actual election day when the campaign gets really intense
and it’s really in the news. And so a lot of people get shut
out before the election because they miss that deadline. And the reality is
many across the country can actually already vote on weekends. Where we have weekend voting and holiday
voting in and a lot of states already effectively through
early voting. Early voting designates a window before
Election Day where citizens can vote in-person at
various polling sites. Well, mail voting allows someone to have
the state send them a ballot. That person can then fill the ballot
out at their convenience and return it to the state when they’re
ready for it to be counted. It’s only really a handful of states left
that don’t have some sort of no excuse early voting either by
mail or by person. And so I don’t really think necessarily
we need to move to have an election day on a holiday
or on the weekend. We just need to clean up these
last few states that don’t allow this convenience voting. Thirty nine
states offer early voting. Thirty three states offer some
form of mail voting. Experts have said that mail and
voting especially can offer some unique advantages. It’s really nice for a lot
of people because they get the ballot and they can fill it out
at home on their own time. It likely leads to more informed voting
because people can see what their ballot and take the time to
figure out the different races. One of the cheapest ways to run
elections is through all mail ballot elections. You don’t have to
have a costly polling location. You don’t need to have
lots of voting equipment. And so if you want to do the
cheapest way of running elections, you do all mail BALLOT elections. By the way,
those all mail ballot elections? They tend to have some of the
highest turnout rates in the country as well, not just in federal and
state elections, but also in local elections. Weekend voting has also
faced political hurdles in Washington. One thing that’s difficult about electoral
reform is you need to convince the people in power to change the
system that put them in power. When Congress has actually taken up
the question of weekend or holiday voting. The issue has come
down on party lines. It’s a partisan issue. There is
this perception that anything that’s going to increase turnout is likely going
to benefit the Democratic Party, because when we do surveys of people,
non-voters tend to say that they would support Democrat candidates. For example, only Democrat congressmen
supported the Twenty Seventeen Weekend Voting Act and more recently, the
for the People Act, which among other things would have made
Election Day a federal holiday. In short weekend or holiday, voting might
not quite be the quick fix originally suggested. Right now, there’s not enough political will
to make this reform on a national level. Its ability to jeopardize
the re-election of those already in power and the partisan nature
of the wider turnout debate create serious political hurdles to
passing it in Congress. Experts also seem unconvinced by the
evidence to claim that weekend or holiday voting would
significantly increase turnout. Instead, many point to other reforms like
early voting or mail in ballots, which already offer de
facto non workday voting. But at the state level, these other
reforms are gaining steam with pockets of both Democrats and Republicans, resulting
in a growing body of election law that encourages more
participation in our democracy.

Posts created 10158

100 thoughts on “Why Does The U.S. Vote On Tuesdays?

  1. In my country, we have one election which is on Sundays, and we choose the president, senators, deputies, governors and well I believe everything at the same time, and voting is compulsory. If you don’t show up, they fine you, however is not a very high fine it’s about 2 US dollars, so yep some people don’t vote, although it can bring you troubles with the state in the future.
    The elections take place on schools, mostly public ones, but also some private ones. Every one is registered when they turn 16, or they should be, though in some cases, some teens aren’t on the “padrón” (list of registered people). Voting is compulsory since you are 18 years old, you can chose whether to vote or not if you are 16 or 17, or if you are older than I don’t remember what age, but when you are old. Each person is registered to vote on the school which’s closer to their home (the place it shows on their ID) Usually there aren’t very long lines, at the web or at the school’s entrance, there are lists that tell you, which table you have to vote at, it’s divided by last names. In my case, I live literally in front of the school where I vote, so I just cross the street whenever I want, go to my table and there are at much 4/5 people in front of me. It usually varies by the time of the day you go, if you go on lunch time your more likely to end sooner than if you go at the afternoon, when a lot of people go.

  2. Wow, you can only vote on a single day in the US? Where I live you can vote in advance for a couple of weeks. Unless you change your mind and vote on election day that vote counts.

  3. I say mandatory 2 years of service for all, voting age raised to 25 and a strict identification process to ensure we end all the fake and illegal votes. My 2 cents.

  4. Why even vote every sane person know that all elections are rigged in every country,especially in the one where president has huge power like US

  5. Why do you need to vote anyways, become a dictatorship. Americans won’t even notice it , they are busy on Facebook, Twitter, getting fat and watching Netflix.

  6. Here in Utah, they’ve had mail in ballots for years and it’s super convenient. I’m always excited to get my ballot in the mail, and my family will sit down after dinner and do research on each race and candidate before we go off on our own to vote. I honestly think that is the best solution to the issue.

  7. Here in MI we passed proposal 3 in 2018 to allow same day registration and no reason absentee ballot (old days you needed an excuse like religious obligation or knowing you’d be out of town like my first vote in 2004 when I was in college)

  8. America doesn't want people to vote… simple… plutocrats win when voter turnout is low… there's a reason the party of the rich is the one that likes to attempt to purge voter rolls… they dont want democracy… faux republic….

  9. Ask whom is benefitted by Tuesday voting? Rural and suburban retirees have more opportunity to vote on Tuesday than working city dwellers. Think the status quo (ie, Republicans) would have it any other way?

  10. The electoral college is another reason why they don't. If you're not one of those states that decide the presidential election. than it feels like it doesn't matter

  11. to discourage people from voting, duh!
    The only "democracy" that keeps finding creative ways to keep voters (particularly non conservatives) from fulfilling their right/duty

  12. Even developing countries realised this decades ago and have election day as a national holiday to give more people a chance to cast their vote.

  13. We are a republic not a pure democracy. If we were a pure democracy these rabid leftists would’ve ruined the entire country already.

  14. In Australia it is literally easier to vote than to not vote. For 3 weeks before election day there are multiple prepoll centers in every district, postal voting is easy, you can vote in every Australian embassy in the world and on election day queues are small because there are an abundance of polling stations. You can vote at any of them and then buy a nice saussage sizzle. If you somehow avoid all these options then you get an annoying $20 fine to deal with.

  15. Early voting, baby! We have two full weeks to find a time to drop in and cast your ballot. Vote by mail. Americans are just to lazy to go to the polls!

  16. Why do we have just A single day? it could work better if it were a week long elections.
    We are the Richest country in the world we CAN pay for it.

  17. Oh please. People that don't vote don't want to vote. I'm so tired of hearing all this crap about 'poor people and minorities'. I'm a minority and I've never missed an election since I turned 18.

  18. The real answer is because republicans don't want more people to vote. Old people (their base) always vote. So the higher the turnout the worst republicans do typically. That's also why republicans want to voter ID/registration laws and like purging voters.

  19. The arguments against changing the voting day to a weekend don’t make any sense at all. How does it matter if there are other factors at play? Why not improve on this factor AND try to find solutions to other problems one at a time? Also, this is so easy to test by running a Pilot in a few representative communities.

  20. Honestly, if the American government wasn't a two-party party system, this tradition would have been a thing of the past. Republicans stand to benefit greatly from making it harder for hourly wage workers to vote. Democrats tend to attract younger, lower-wage workers for those who don't know. The irony is that Republicans tend to pride themselves on being the "patriotic" party, but they try their best to prevent eligible voters from voting, which is arguably one of the most unpatriotic things one can do in a democracy.

  21. Why the number of people voting is so low? Imo a lot of people know that voting is not important, promisses made during the election season are forgotten as soon as the candidate has become elected.

  22. I used to think it would be better to vote on a weekend …. But I realized that when voting is even a little hard, The mindless sheeple stay home and people dedicated to the process do the work to get to the polls . The last thing I want is for idiots to actually vote! If its the most important thing you have to do that day…I want you to vote. SO I have come full circle and decided I like the odd voting time now after thinking about the problems with lazy voters voting for handouts instead of policy!

  23. Why don't you guys have an independent election commission it would make things a lot more easier, that would do delimitation of the states to avoid gerrymandering and mark voters fingers with ink to stop double voting.

  24. In Argentina we vote on Sundays for national, regional and municipal states and it works really good (and hell yeah we have low rate workers). As long as politicians do not want to change it, it wont change. Everything else is just an excuse.

  25. I think there should be a 7 day period called voting week, and you can vote any day during that week, and your employer would be required to give you one fully paid day off during voting week specifically so you can go vote.

    In addition to the standard early voting we already have and mail in voting which should be expanded to all states.

    If you still choose to not vote after that. That's on you.

  26. Because they will do anything to discourage poor people from voting. Lots of people can't take off work. More Republican low life tactics.

  27. The option to vote shouldn't be a one day thing. We should have the option on a one week basis. Sunday-Saturday… Convenience stations and voter notification.

  28. It should be a national holiday and it should be two days, It always seemed crazy to me that it's only one day to vote. And if it was a national holiday everyone (for the most part) would be to be available.

  29. If you have kids that are 9-12 grade, you should look into whether or not your City has a youth city council (YCC). They often do tons of service projects in their communities, as well as teach young people about civic government. It’s a great way to get young people involved in your local community. I served on the YCC for Cottonwood Heights, Utah for 3 years, and I felt like I learned a ton and made me really appreciate my civic responsibilities. Plus I made a whole lot of good friends, which for a shy guy like me was basically a miracle.

  30. We have too many elections. Primaries, midterm elections general elections. Plus the electoral college is in itself a voting discouragement

  31. You are leaving out the extended early voting days before the official election day. Also, anyone can now request an absentee ballot. No excuses to not vote. If you moved election day to Thanksgiving or Christmas there would still be a mass of excuses. Plus, what poll workers would agree to work those days for the stipend they are paid?

  32. Change to a absentee mail in ballot. Washington state has been doing it as long as I have been voting. Grab the ballot from your mail box, fill it out, mail it back or drop it off at a ballot drop location. It makes voting easy. However as long as their is rampent corruption, or at least perceceaved rampent corruption in the government and the government not doing what the people want make them think it's not worth the effort to voting.

  33. I disagree with the day off. If you give service industry workers a day off, they're not gonna stand in line for 4 hours on a day off.

    Also service workers don't vote as much because they don't think it'll make a difference. It's proven both parties don't give a damn about the poor. Salaried/wealthier folks care more because the opposite candidate might want to raise taxes, so the candidate will actually be effective toward the wealthy in policies. The poor always get screwed over.

    Here's how to get 85% turnout:
    – Get corporate money out of politics
    – run non-centrist candidates
    – auto-register everyone
    – Vote by mail (like Oregon) or vote in person for two weeks (like Florida) or both.

    Changing days or giving days off won't change a damn thing. Sorry CNBC, but y'all aren't working class (and neither are your interviewees). You aren't qualified to explain why the poor don't vote. (granted some people interview did state my points, and good on them).

  34. I like the idea of mail order voting cause it removes election fraud. I remember going with a parent to vote and the person there claimed they already voted which they didn't meaning someone illegally voted on their name. But if you live in Brooklyn specific demographics are corrupt and in control which causes things like election fraud. So I'm all for only mail ballet.

  35. Can't we just get an app with appropriate facts and misc. info of candidates. We can out source customer service to India. At least they have people traveling from village to village.

  36. Voting has been on a Tuesday for almost 200 years but now all the sudden it’s a problem. Democrats are trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

  37. Australia has compulsory voting and its always on a Saturday. I time my vote at my local public school and I don't remember when I last lined up to vote. Walk in, vote and walk out.

  38. I’m confused, in the last 10 years I have never gone to a voting station. I get my Ballot mailed to me I fill it out and send it back. What am I missing here?

  39. I am so confused, they act like you can only vote on ONE single day of the year…. as if they never came across the early voting or mail in voting….. i never once have voted on a tuesday…..

    everyone too busy crying "they hate the poor working class" rather than do 2mins of research.

    edit: or just watch the full damn video, they even explain early voting and mail in voting!

  40. Want more voters?? It's not just time restrictions or a day off would help or min wage jobs don't factor into it, or evin a no deadline for registration…. A good chunk of people have fellonys and can not vote people!!! Why isn't that covered in this "news" its over 10% of the population. That's bumps this up from 55 to 65%
    Voting should be a national holiday EVERYONE should receive off honesty.

  41. they can keep it on tuesdays if they want but they should designate it as a national holiday mandatory for everybody in the country

  42. The US doesnt have a scheduling problem it has a candidate problem. Offer the electorate quality candidates to vote for and they will make the time, stand in rain or shine. Build it and they will come.

  43. Every other country does it on Sundays and they have amazing turnout. The US only holds elections on Tuesdays to exclude people more dependent on lower wage work. It's that simple. All the rest of the garbage in this video is fake news.

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