October 26, 2004

WALL? (via The Mother Judd):

Why do we vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November? (Glad You Asked by Jeff Elder, 10/25/04, Jewish World Review)

Q: I'm a middle school teacher in North Carolina. One of the students asked why the general election is always held "on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November." - Stephen Sorrell

A: The Federal Election Commission gives these reasons for the timing of Election Day: [...]

—Why Tuesday? Since most residents of rural America had to travel a significant distance to the county seat in order to vote, Monday was not considered reasonable as many people would need to begin travel on Sunday. This would, of course, have conflicted with church services and Sunday worship.

—Why the first Tuesday after the first Monday? Lawmakers wanted to prevent Election Day from falling on the first of November for two reasons. Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, a holy day for Roman Catholics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2004 11:29 PM

Shhh... don't give the atheists ideas! They'll move it to December 25 between 6 AM and 12 noon, and then they'll take over and ban religion! FIENDS!!

Posted by: Just John at October 26, 2004 11:48 PM

A good conservative reform might be to make everyone go to the county seat to vote, and make them walk to get there, like in the good old days. That would weed out some uninformed voters.

Posted by: pj at October 27, 2004 12:48 AM

Um, how many Catholics were there in America when the Constitution was written? I think a fair number in MD, but where else?

Posted by: brian at October 27, 2004 12:49 AM

I think Election Day should be moved to November 1st, and it should be declared a holiday. One, adults and children could better enjoy their Halloween festivites if they had the day off the next day. Two, Catholics would be happy to have All Saints Day inadverdently declared a national holiday. Third, every voter would be free to go to the polls. I think it is a win for everyone.

Posted by: Vince at October 27, 2004 2:58 AM

Election Day should be actually Election Weekend, starting at sundown Friday and ending sunrise Monday. Most people have at least one day off each weekend.

Posted by: Bart at October 27, 2004 6:35 AM

So what? Take a minute and go vote on a work day.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2004 7:29 AM

I'm of the mind that FEWER people voting is a good thing. Winnowing it down to those who really care about this stuff, and pay attention to it, would benefit the country. As it stands, the need to appeal to every possible sort of person out there -- and not offend a single one of them -- has spawned the ridiculous spectacle of the Modern Campaign. in which candidates play this goofy (and disingenuous) public chess game of pandering.

I'm not saying we should be restricting eligibility. But we certainly shouldn't be looking for ways to ease the process for even MORE of the country's imbeciles -- the folks who pick a candidate based on some commercial they saw during Oprah or "My Big Fat Obnoxious House Makeover" or whatever. There are enough genuinely smart, attentive folks in all sectors of the ideological spectrum to ably handle the job of picking our representatives.

Advocating weekend voting or an election-day holiday comes from the same noble but misguided impulse that drives stuff like "Rock the Vote" and the new "Vote or Die," which glorify the mere act of lever-pulling as a kind of sacred calling. You'll note that the most significant Constitutional erosion has occurred only since the expansion of suffrage. That's a result of simple math: A wider pool of voters necessarily includes more numbskulls. And it's the numbskull set that can be lured to the polls by easy promises of pork, handouts, special privileges -- stuff that infringes the rights (and pocketbooks) of the rest of us.

Limiting voting rights to males who own property surely was an unfair and unacceptable situation back in the day, but it's easy to sympathize with the rationale behind it.

Posted by: Tomas at October 27, 2004 8:40 AM

Didn't the fact that fall harvests had pretty much been completed by early November play a role in assigning a national election day?

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 27, 2004 8:50 AM

Parker and Stone (the duo behind South Park) were being interviewed regarding their new movie Team America: World Police.

They said that if anyone decided who to vote for because they saw Team America or Michael Moore's movie, they should stay home because that shows they're too dumb to be voting.

This caused a public hissy-fit from Enlightened Celebrity Sean Penn (who by the way appears in Team America -- sort of).

Posted by: Ken at October 27, 2004 1:16 PM

My housemates get all in a tizzy because our neighbor doesn't vote - ever for anything. He's like Homer Simpson: "I voted for Prell to go back to the old glass bottle. After that I became deeply disillusioned."
Anyway, they get bent at me when I say, "Who cares if he votes or not? He's a nitwit!"

Posted by: Governor Breck at October 27, 2004 2:50 PM