In 1845, voting on Tuesday made perfect sense. Now? Not so much.

Today is Super Tuesday. Again.

Millions of people in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio will have the opportunity today to vote in their presidential primaries. Hundreds of delegates are at stake and, after the polls close, we'll have an even clearer vision of who might be in the running to lead this country for the next four years.

As weird as this particular election season has been, there's one question about our democratic process that consistently comes up every election:


Why the hell do we vote on Tuesdays?

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The vast majority of states hold their primaries and caucuses on Tuesdays, and Election Day itself is always on a Tuesday in November.

It's strange because Tuesday is, you know ... Tuesday. It's a work day. It's also kind of the worst one. Tuesday is like Monday, but you don't even get to blame your grumpiness, lethargy, and under eye circles on "The Mondays."

Unsurprisingly, the origin of our Tuesday voting tradition is more embarrassingly outdated than an iPhone 4.

You see, back in 1845 (before California was a state and the Civil War was barely a twinkle in Daniel Day-Lewis' eye), farmers needed a day to travel to their local statehouse by horse and buggy.

Plus a day to vote, hang out, and drink some of that old-timey XXX whiskey, and a day to travel back. They didn't want to interfere with days of worship, and Wednesday was market day, so they settled on Tuesday.

"Election Day is on a Tuesday! Plus, everything costs a penny, and butter is always homemade. I love the 1800s!" Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Nowadays, voting on Tuesday is way more of an inconvenience than anything.

Tuesday is rough for me, and my biggest responsibility is usually restocking on cereal.

It's a substantially bigger problem for people with families, kids that have to go from school to soccer practice, jobs that lock you in all day, and just enough time to put dinner on the table before falling asleep to "The Voice."

Tuesday voting is more than just a weird historical anomaly. It actively makes voting harder for millions of people.

And let's face it, voter turnout in this country is already pretty bad. In fact, according to some estimates, we're behind 30 other countries in terms of voter participation.

Many countries, including Belgium, Turkey, and Australia, even have laws that make voting required and failing to participate is punishable with a fine.

That's because participating in democracy is not only important, it's essential to how the whole thing works.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

There are plenty of actions and decisions that have made voting harder. Maybe it's time for one that makes it easier.

A lot of people have called for Election Day to become a national holiday, including current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who said it "would indicate a national commitment to create a vibrant democracy."

It would give more people a chance to vote and make the democratic process way more accessible.

We don't need to go as far as a fine if you fail to cast your ballot, but if we can make a national holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus, we can make a national holiday celebrating democracy. Next to fried food and Bill Withers, it's one of the best things about America.

Plus we'd get to sleep in on a Tuesday. And that's the real prize isn't it?

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less