Answer: Because our founding fathers wouldn’t travel on the weekends
It’s hard work figuring out how to structure the world’s most iconic democracy. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. A mountain of issues must be discussed, debated, and ultimately voted on and sometimes you just can’t get to every single topic on the table. That’s precisely what happened to our founding fathers when they were mapping out the future of the United States. You see, after the Constitutional Convention in 1787 these men were gassed. They were absolutely exhausted and hadn’t even gotten to a host of issues yet. One of these issues was what day they should vote. Because the issue wasn’t decided on the national level, individual states were left to decide for themselves. It was pretty chaotic for more than half a century.
Finally, almost sixty years later in 1845, Congress revisited the topic. According to Senate Historian Don Ritchie in NPR, “lawmakers reasoned that Monday was out because people would have to travel to the polls in their buggies on Sunday, the Sabbath. And in a mostly farming society, Wednesday wouldn’t work because that was often market day. So, Tuesday was the day, and that seemed to work great for 19th-century voters.”
So while buggies are slowly being replaced by autonomous vehicles and Teslas in America, Tuesday holds strong as the day we vote. We do have other options today that didn’t always exist, like absentee and early voting, but 15 states still don’t give their citizen’s these options, so you have to get to the polls on Tuesday if you want your voice to be heard.
Critics of the antiquated system say it’s time for America to amend the day it votes in order to cater to modern-day schedules. They point to exceptionally low voter turnout and data that says people’s excuses for why they don’t go to the polls include “being too busy” or having a scheduling conflict. It’s a workday, so it does make sense.
With that said, we just wrote in our trivia section last week that over 40% of U.S. companies are giving their employees paid time off for the mid-terms. This is up from 37% in 2016 and the voter enthusiasm seems to be showing even before people head to the polls. According to Business Insider, “turnout in 22 states and Washington, DC, shattered previous midterm early voter rates, with a reported 31.5 million ballots cast three days before Election Day.”
In conclusion, yes today is Tuesday, but embrace the decisions of our quirky ancestors and revel in the fact that you have a voice. Go vote!