Why Tuesday For Election Day

Friday, February 1st 2008, 5:16 pm
By: News On 6

Early voting for Super Tuesday is already underway at the Tulsa County Election Board.  Voters began casting early ballots on Friday.  Ballots can also be cast between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday at the Tulsa County Election Board at 55 N. Denver.  News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports most voters will vote in the primary on Tuesday, when voters from 24 states will hit the polls.  But, one group is asking the question why Tuesday?  And, they're pushing for change.

Jason LaBarge is voting early in the presidential primary.  He has to work on Super Tuesday, and says voting early is more convenient and having a say is his civic duty.

"We have the opportunity to get out and elect an official, person or candidate that we feel is best qualified and we desire," said Tulsa County voter Jason LaBarge.

Early voting helps with participation, but in the last presidential primary only 19% of registered Tulsa County voters cast ballots.  The percentage would be a little higher if independents were factored in.

"I'm really surprised that we don't have more people coming to vote because we're in a free country and we should be able to do that," said Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant.

The group, "Why Tuesday," thinks it has the answer to low voter turnout.  It wants political leaders to look at other options for an election day, instead of a Tuesday which they say is inconvenient.

"My first thought is that it would probably be good because we need something to be done to get more voters to come to the polls," said Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant.

Voting on Tuesday dates back to the 1800's when the country was primarily agricultural.  For many people, it was a long trip to get to town to vote.  They didn't want to travel on a Sunday, so Tuesday was about the earliest everyone could get to polling places.

"Why Tuesday" recommends voting on Saturday or maybe on a national holiday, or over several days.  But, there are concerns any change may be confusing to voters, and could make it difficult to find precinct workers.

"It's hard enough finding precinct workers to volunteer their time on a Tuesday.  I don't know how Saturday would go over," said Shelly Boggs with the Tulsa County Election Board.

At the very least, "Why Tuesday" gets people talking about the right to vote, and improving the political process.

Of course, you may also ask the question why November?  Way back when, spring was the planting season, farmers tended crops in the summer, and fall was harvest time.  So, November was selected.