We all know Election Day in America always falls on a Tuesday -- more specifically, the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. But have you ever wondered why? John Oliver explained this outdated electoral convention (and why it's counterproductive for democracy) on the latest episode of Last Week Tonight.
"The reason actually comes from an 1845 law, passed for a very 1845 reason," according to the show's researchers. Basically, people had trouble moving around the country in olden days. Think about it: there were very few trains, no cars, no planes and no Uber. So to help voters get to polling stations, lawmakers decided to hold elections on Tuesday, thinking people could spend Monday travelling and then cast their ballots the following day.
Which makes you wonder how many likely voters spoiled their ballots by getting dysentery.
While that system might've helped 19th century voters, it's becoming a big problem for 21st century Americans -- especially those in the 13 states that don't allow advanced voting or mail-in voting. Without those options, polling stations get gridlocked on Tuesday, with massive lines causing long delays. Or to use Last Week Tonight's words, Election Day is "all the wait times of Disney World, all the fun of the fucking DMV."
And that's especially inconvenient for working-class voters who are losing hours of work to exercise their democratic responsibilities. But Last Week Tonight has some solutions. The best one by far is making Election Day a holiday so that everyone has time to vote.