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.

100 Replies to “Why Does The U.S. Vote On Tuesdays?”

  1. In the USA, we have two weeks of early voting (including Saturdays) and our polls are open from 6:30am to 7:30pm on Election Day. If you still can't find time to vote in that time frame, you need to reconsider your priorities and intelligence.

  2. Because schools aren't open on Tuesday, also the people who have to work on weekends/holidays will also have to work on Tuesday. Just because one improvement doesn`t fix all problems doesn't mean you still shouldn't do it and 55% turnout is horrible for modern "functioning" democracy, 77% is the average in western Europe. Stupid arguments

  3. The Philippines always votes on Mondays but election day is always a holiday. It boggles the mind to know it isn't in the US.

  4. If you really wanted to vote you would find a way. Sounds like a bunch lazy excuses not to vote. Poppycock, racism excuse too.

  5. Cuz voting is a big scandal making the masses think their votes count instead of the fact that the win was already decided, so it's on a Tuesday so people think about why it's not a Monday or Friday.. or a weekend day for goodness SAKES instead of thinking about the scandal.. HHHAAAAA!!! ;p

  6. Just because long time ago the country was of an agricultural economy. But this should change since this country had changed to a service and tech industry. But the higher ups in government and aristocrats have a different idea. They decided to save the trouble of changing the law so to prevent (hard working-grinding-struggling to survive low income employees who heavily depended on the mercy of their employers) from turning out which (mostly these employees have Socialists mindset) which go against (the values of their Capitalistic boss who have a benefit in the current political climate). Mail voting is no different than a made-up Ghost voting using dead people's name. Unless US can fix its voting system, it can never call itself truly Democratic but making the illusion of Democracy. But if Socialists Really want change, they first have to make the sacrifice. It will be either an off day lost on a vote, or a life lost protesting on the streets.

    In where I lived, the ALL primary/ secondary schools are converted into polling stations on General Election day, since many working families need a nearby school for their children, it becomes easier for voting family units to travel. We do it on a weekend and also on mid year so those working overseas won't have the excuse of a bad snow storm weather unable to fly back to vote.

  7. If we could give illegal aliens drivers licenses and let them choose their own names and info we could boost the voting of citizens no longer living

  8. The country that goes around the world spreading "democracy", fails to give its citizens a mandatory day off to go out and vote. The hypocrisy is astounding.

  9. I don't vote in Australia because it's too expensive to try to get there and too time consuming.

    So yeah . . . WRONG buddy.

    But 10% is a very low figure and much lower than 50 obviously. There are about 5-10% of the population who have no idea what is going on and are probably better off not voting. This 10% figure is not exactly one to ridicule.

    A lot of people don't want to be seen in public either. At least 10% don't want to be stuck around 500 people.

  10. In Colorado, where I live, we have mail in ballots, where you receive your ballot in the mail and drop it off at the nearest mailbox where the polling place is located. We also let people register on election day. Because of this Colorado has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the U.S. If every state in the country adopted Colorado's model, voter turnout would see a significant boost.

  11. A truly Corrupt democratic system that is designed to keep working class and minority down. This is why so many established politicians are so corrupted.

    Move to blockchain voting, democracy dollars and voting holidays. So simple but corrupt democratic system exist for corrupt establishment and the wealthy.

  12. That’s so stupid! In Australia voting always on a Saturday and even then there’s early voting places where you can vote from the Monday of that week

  13. There should be many voting posts with multiple volunteers and multiple voters line so that people can finish voting soon as possible & return to their daily works.
    And What about a National Holiday as "Vote(ing) Day" which may result in accurate Voting.

  14. Have you ever considered that the U.S. just isn't a democracy? Honestly, just because people call something democratic doesn't automatically make it so. Is every citizen of the country in a position to vote? No. So…

  15. Y'all got issues. #1 go to your county office and make sure you are registered properly every January. #2 Demand your county stop buying voting machines from George Soros. #2 Demand your county office accept your ballots for two weeks before election day. #3 stop pretending everyone owes you something. They dont. Man up and figure it out.

  16. In Germany we have federal voter turnout around 70 percent and you didn't have to wait at all. We are usually vote on Sunday but mail votes are allowed.

  17. Schools are empty at weekend and you can reschedule some weekend event in case and a weakday there should be a school day.

  18. Because those parties in power doesn't necessarily want to make voting easy and convenient. Less voters mean higher probability of winning.

  19. So most people waste their time and their vote don't even count.

    Electoral college vote and stop making people think we need to waste our time and money.

  20. This makes the US look dumb. But there is a catch. Most minorities working multiple jobs will never get their votes to count. Meanwhile, top executives with time on their hand gets to vote and steer the government in the direction they like.

  21. Vote by Absentee. I did it deployed to Iraq in a combat zone. If you are a responsible adult you will find a way. Plan for it like you do most things that are important to you.

  22. how about the people WORKING the elections?
    Saturday works, but Sunday doesn't for a lot of people.

    If you make it a national holiday, the POLL WORKER are hired by the government, so if it's a bank holiday the county is also closed
    😐

  23. In my county we vote my mail. You can vote whenever you want 2 to 3 weeks before the election. Everyone should do this.

  24. but what about all the people that work on weekends??? i feel that the idea of moving it to weekends just favors 9-5 workers over the service industry that employs a lot of people in the US.

  25. For Crying out loud. In Australia most polling booths are Schools and on a Saturday. it is also compulsory to vote otherwise you incur a $50 fine if you don't. I am sure the great America has plenty of schools ti accommodate for everyone. You can have an early day voting on a Saturday starting at 4.00am – 10.00pm to ensure those people who pray on a Saturday they can vote before or after their prayers lol. You guys do it on a Tuesday is because you want to prevent voters from voting.

  26. By Tuesday, all the local police officials and ICE agents are all back to work and can keep an eye on illegal aliens trying to vote in our elections.

  27. Because once upon a time the Democrats didn't want black or immigrant people to have the opportunity to vote. They were not allowed to leave work.

  28. With Mail in ballots and Early voting in my state you can vote in person two weeks before election every day of the week and vote by mail 24hrs a day! no excuse

  29. today nearly everybody has a damn cell phone and we still need people to drive to polling places. all our technology and we haven't found a way to verify that a phone number belongs to a genuine voter and can only be used to securely send one-time votes during a designated time window? it's easier to vote for a singer on a national talent show than a president. smh

  30. I work from home so I just go in my lunch break I’m in and out. Only time I can recall waiting waiting was in 08 the polls was crazy that day.

  31. I don't need to watch the video. Many people have hard time getting off during the week, so this is a way to prevent many from voting.
    The democrats are allowing non-citizens & Prisoners to vote. Literally anyone in world can vote without being actual citizen of the country. What's the point of having Politician's who do nothing in office and give money to fund terrorism and leave their people defenseless. Democrats are Anti-American and Anti-Citizen.

  32. I love that in the thumbnail for this video, there's a Muslim right in the middle 😂 completely non-staged image 😂😂😂

  33. You can vote by mail and drop it off at your work delivery box. But many people still don't. The part confused me where he talks about how farmers work in early fall then goes straight to that people couldn't vote cause it was cold in November. What's the point of even mentioning the farmers because November (late fall) is more convenient for them, since they wouldn't be working.

  34. SO BLACK AND LATINOS CANT SKIP THE WORK DAY TO VOTE BUT IS OK …… BECAUSE THEY CANT STOP TIME AND THE WORLD IS GETTING BLACKER MORE LATIN AND SEXIER ALSO RICHER STAY WOKE .

  35. I do not vote cuz I live in Hawaii. First we only have 4 electoral votes. And second, the winner is practically announce by the time our voting booths close. Also, just have election date on Monday or Friday, and make it a 3 day holiday.

  36. My only rebuttal to this would be that (at least in Georgia) that early voting which happens for weeks gives voters the opportunity to vote, for literally a month

  37. It’s easier for smaller countries to get their people to vote when they only have to worry about 9 million people 😂😂

  38. Low wages hourly paid workers also work on weekends. Like me for example. Howelse could we afford to make a living if not working more hours?

  39. i am not an expert but i think if there is a map of all polling stations on google map or something and it shows how big is the line or wait time and people can see it in real time and they can choose any of the polling station in the s=city to vote than it will be awesome.

  40. Solving this type of problem better way to go with online voting system. Then everybody can participate in elections.

  41. There is absolutely no good excuse in 2020 as to why we aren't able to vote securely from our mobile phones anywhere in the world.

  42. i vote every time i even voted while under the water as i spent 7 years in the navy and 6 under water on subs.

  43. Why not make voting a Holliday. It could be fun. Seeing what team would win. Ether way USA doesn't have democracy.

  44. there is something call "Vote By Mail". If you really want vote, you can. Don't take it for granted, someone died to have this right for you.
    just look at HongKong, kids use their blood to show you. all they want is a ballot in their hand every four years.

  45. waiting in line cost 500 millions for voters? what is the cost to the whole country if they can't vote easily and someone win because of that? it may cost the voters 500 billions.

  46. well, heres a crazy idea! why not just allow online voting?? you would only need to prove your you. it would never replace in person voting, but online voting would ease the stresses of voting by ALOT.

  47. NO election results should be released until all ballots have been counted!! The MEDIA calling states with 1% of the vote in is past ridiculous!!

  48. In the Philippines, we also vote on Tuesday, of the second week of May; every Presidential Election. Our next Presidential Election is on the 2nd week of May 2022.

  49. In Colombia there are three voting days; all on a Sunday and with alcohol sales forbidden for 36 hours from Saturday 18:00 to Monday 6:00 (UTC –5:00).

    Legislative on March (close to when Americans and Canadians start DST), followed by the Presidential in June, and with a possible second round. Funny that this latter election always matches with the FIFA World Cup championship. And in the next year is the Local election every last Sunday of October.

    Sidenote: There have been plans to make the Presidency last for six years that have failed or is on standby, as well to end with the 36 hour veto on alcohol due to "improvement" on the population.

  50. My poll workers are retired people, they aint got nothing to do.
    I vote early because i dont do lines. Early voting isnt that popular even though u can do it Mon-Fri from 8am-5pm and sometimes on Saturday

  51. This is how the Republicans want it.
    What, you want them to get by simply on gerrymandering, voter suppression, machine manipulation, and Russian interference? Are you kidding? They need all the help they can get !

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