VOTE (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

We don’t know whether it’s possible to overemphasize the duty every eligible American has to vote. We believe in voting like we believe in the miracle of babies and the love of dogs. Voting surpasses even Mom and apple pie. People literally died — in living memory — so we could vote.

But in the United States, we don’t make it particularly easy to vote, which is reflected in our embarrassing voter turnout rate, only 56 percent in 2016. That rate puts us at 26th among 32 developed, democratic countries.

One of the least rational obstacles is setting National Election Day on a Tuesday, a day when many Americans are at work. It’s an artifact from the nation’s agrarian horse-and-buggy days.

Most Americans lived on farms in 1845, when Congress set the Tuesday after the first Monday in November as Election Day, and traveling to a polling place could take at least a day. But Sunday was reserved for church, and market day for many farmers was Wednesday, so Tuesday it became.

Some employers are giving their workers time off or even the entire day to vote. Bruno’s Little Italy in Little Rock is one such patriotic business closing for the day.

We applaud Bruno’s, but we’d rather see Congress choose a new National Election Day. The Weekend Voting Act has been proposed in past sessions of Congress and gone nowhere. Weekend voting would be a fine solution, but maybe a public holiday is something citizens could get behind — replace Columbus Day with National Election Day or Democracy Day on the first or second Monday in November.

But that’s a problem for later. For now, Tuesday is upon us, so vote if you haven’t already. We owe it to the dead. We owe it even more to the living.



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