Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why Tuesday: Israel Edition

Today is not only Election Day in the United States. Elections for most municipalities in Israel were also supposed to take place today, but due to the fact that it is November 4th, the anniversary of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination it was postponed by a week. By law, regularly scheduled elections are held on the third Tuesday of the Hebrew month of Heshvan (or the first Tuesday of Heshvan after a leap year). When early elections are called, they are always held on a Tuesday.

The historical reason for Tuesday elections in the United States is well known. Sunday was the Sabbath, and Monday was for traveling to the polling place, Tuesday for voting, and Wednesday was for traveling back. Holding elections on a Tuesday these days doesn't make sense anymore, though, even in the United States. So why are Israeli elections on Tuesdays, other than imitating America?

In Israel, where government services don't operate on Saturdays due to the Jewish Sabbath, I can understand why the weekend is not used for voting. I guess they chose the middle of the week so there won't be a problem with last minute preparations during Saturday, and most of the counting of results is over before the next Saturday.

I think it would be smarter and cheaper to hold the elections for a whole week, from Sunday to Friday, with polls closing on Friday before the Sabbath so the religious parties won't object. The costly day off on Election Day can be canceled, since people will have a lot more time to vote, especially on Friday, when most people have the day off anyway.

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