As you may have heard, there’s a fairly important election taking place in two days. Among the many, many people urging Americans to vote is John Oliver, whose latest “How Is This Still a Thing” segment on “Last Week Tonight” is devoted to a question many have wondered about for a long time: Why do we vote on Tuesday?
The actual answer, which dates back to 1845, is dispiritingly antiquated: Weekends were unacceptable due to the Sabbath, and Monday was used as a travel day so voters could trek the sometimes long distances between their homestead and their polling station. As with Daylight Savings Time, we’re being inconvenienced in the 21st century because of something that made sense in the 19th century.
From there, the video pivots to footage of people waiting in line for hours on end to vote and and an unsurprising statistic: The most common reason given among those who don’t take part in the process is that they’re too busy to do so. Some solutions are proposed — expand early voting, move Election Day to a weekend or declare it a national holiday — but for now we’re left to wonder why this is still a thing.