Sunday, 14 September 2014

voting on Thursdays: Why Thursday anyway?

The people of Scotland will decide whether Scotland becomes independent on Thursday. Which begs the question... Why do we vote on Thursdays anyway?

Kezia Dugdale - picture pinched from her
webpage here
I have been impressed with Kezia Dugdale during the Scottish independence referendum campaign. There haven't been enough women involved, at a high level, and I thought she equipped herself well in the debate with Elaine C Smith (the actor, who did not know what the white paper said), and has generally been eloquent, polite, and thoughtful in an ongoing debate which has become increasingly nasty. I can see why she is seen as a rising star in the Labour party.

The other day, she was saying that we need to move on from elections on a Thursday, which made me wonder why it is we do vote on Thursdays?

I found out so you don't have to. 

Back in the day, when people worked Monday to Friday and stopped work at 5pm, the idea was that people would vote on Thursday, then count and announce results on the Friday, the new prime minister would choose their cabinet over the weekend, and they'd be good to go on the Monday morning.

But that's not all there is to it. Thursday was also a good day because it was often the day chosen for half day closing of shops (remember that?), so people could more easily get to vote. Conversely, Thursday was often market day, so people would be in town anyway. Also, holding the elections on a Thursday was seen as reducing the influence of religious leaders (being far from Sunday), and was considered the most sober day of the week (as people were generally paid on Fridays).

Things have changed, and, in particular, we now have the internet, which could surely be useful for voting? So perhaps Thursday is not the best day any more? Still, we stick with it. In fact there hasn't been a vote on another day since the 1930s (a Tuesday in 1931). Other countries now vote on a Sunday, and in the US they have used voting machines, which make for faster counting, but carry some problems (as Scandal makes clear).

More on this here.

What electoral reforms would you like to see?

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Update on the little girl's arm: She is healing well, and has ditched her big old white plaster for a much smaller pink stookie. She no longer has to wear a sling and she's a lot happier. Next appointment in a couple of weeks.