Oh, Wait —

It’s Columbus Day, isn’t it? Christ, what an annoying holiday. And, yes, as a nominal Italian-American, I’m allowed to say that.

Can we please dump it? In fact, I’ll tell you what: I propose trading in Columbus Day, a worthless “surprise! You don’t get mail today!” holiday if there ever was one, for an Election Day holiday instead — a real holiday, where you get to skip work and everything. And if it happens only every other year, in tandem with national elections, I’m good with that.

So, a Columbus Day/Election Day holiday swap. Who’s with me on this one?

104 Comments on “Oh, Wait —”

  1. I don’t think the election day holiday is a good idea. If people had the whole day off, many would take off somewhere and miss voting because the whole day was spent at a ski resort or some such thing. It sounds good, to give people the whole day off so they can vote at their convenience and not have to do anything else, but they would do something else. I am sure that voting turnout would actually go down.

  2. Excellent idea!!! Not only would we have time to actually vote, we’d have time to volunteer at the precincts!!! Not that my office would give us the holiday off seeing as how we don’t get the day after Thanksgiving off, but for the rest of you, great idea.

  3. By all means, lets replace Columbus Day with a day off, but I propose “Paul Krugman Wins a Nobel Prize Day” instead. Talk about something to celebrate…

  4. would be kinda pointless in my home state — we’ve been using vote-by-mail for the better part of this decade. :)

    that said, columbus day has always been one of my favorite nonsensical holidays. i usually go around wishing people a ‘happy genocidal maniac day!’


  5. I don’t understand why election day is on a Tuesday — why not have it on Saturday, or better yet, have election week? Lots of places are pretty much there anyway, what with early voting in so many places.

  6. It is a silly excuse of a holiday, but hey, I get the day off, and that’s what counts, right? And no, I don’t get the day after Thanksgiving off either – that would be better than a random day in October.

  7. Since I already get more holidays than the average American, I’m not going to be selfish and ask for more. But it would be nice not to have to work on mail-less days. Mail-less are so darn confusing to me.

  8. Nuking Columbus Day and creating an Election Day holiday is a great idea. Hold it every year, election or no, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, to avoid the fewer-holidays-is-bad issue, and you’re set.

    And if Obama wins, Nov. 4th will be a holiday for Paul Krugman. In any event, I guarantee he’ll be celebrating big-time. Me, too, despite my having been overlooked by the Nobel committee this year.

  9. Sounds like a good deal to me. But I honestly think people who don’t vote shouldn’t get to have a say in the democracy — oh, wait — they already voluntarily give that up EVERYTIME THEY DON’T VOTE.

    Yea — just a little button you hit there — people who don’t vote irritate the living crap out of me. No excuse I’ve ever heard carries any water beyond “I would lose my job if I went to vote” — in which case the employer should be FINED with PREJUDICE until they get their crap together.

    Yes, I honestly think it’s that important. If one has to vote Absentee, fine. If one has to get a ride to vote, fine. However one gets one’s A** to the voting process works for me.

    So yea — a Tuesday holiday would be a good thing. :>.

  10. I don’t mind ditching Colombus Day, but let’s move it to a day earlier in the year, not later. Perhaps we could start a Patriot Day on 9/11 or something like that.

  11. Maybe an election day holiday would work if it were combined with mandatory voting, like they have in Australia.

  12. I know a few people that wear black bands on their arms on Columbus day because they feel that the holiday is rather stupid to celebrate a man coming to a new place and causing the destruction of an entire race of people.

  13. “I don’t understand why election day is on a Tuesday — why not have it on Saturday, or better yet, have election week? Lots of places are pretty much there anyway, what with early voting in so many places.”

    The reason election day in the United States (and I think this holds true for Canada as well) is an anachronism dating back to a time when all voting was done at the county seat. Sunday you went to church, Monday you traveled to town and spent the night and on Tuesday you voted and headed home.

    Since we’re still an agrarian society that allows voting only at county seats it makes perfect sense to continue this practice. =\

  14. I have a better choice to trade in for an Election Day holiday: Veterans’ Day. It’s less to move; it moves off of the Thanksgiving nonsense; and a helluva lot of us veterans fought to ensure the right to vote.

    Besides, there aren’t a whole lot of WWI veterans left to celebrate Armistice Day (the reason that Veterans’ Day revolves around 11 November)… not to mention that the resumption of hostilities in Europe a few years after the original Armistice Day sort of made the whole holiday moot.

  15. Not only am I with you, but I’ve been on this bandwagon for the better part of a decade. Hey, maybe we can get an Election Day holiday if the Democrats achieve a supermajority in the Senate. Probably not, but one can dream.

  16. I think it’s an excellent idea… Columbus had the right idea, but Leif Erikson had it first…

  17. I’d like to see the First Tuesday after the first Monday in November become a deadline. Rather than having one day to vote, you should be able to vote anytime between the day your state has it’s ballot set and what is now election day.

    As for Columbus Day, I think it’d be better to make it a day of atonement and remembrance, specifically set aside of acknowledge this country’s bloody roots.

  18. Columbus Day is an essential aspect of American Mythology. As a Briton growing up in Massachusetts, I learned about all the other American myths, taught as the gospel truth: The abusive taxes of King George (far lower than the taxes paid anywhere else in the empire, and raised to pay for the French and Indian War which largely benefited the colonists); the terrible tyranny of the monarchy (The only country with Parliamentary sovereignty and a near figurehead constitutional monarch, and the propagandists decided to pick on poor George; the British refusal to bow to reasonable colonial requests (Britain offered seats in Parliament, the colonists wouldn’t take them); and of course Paul Revere and all that nonsense. If we stop crediting Columbus, we would have to start giving the ancient Greeks recognition for realizing that the earth was round (and getting the circumference right as well, which is more than you can say for old Christopher in 1492), we’d have to start crediting the Greenlander Norse and whalers, or heaven-forbid, the Asians who made it across the land bridge, with discovering this place.

    I’m all for a national election day, but move it to Wednesday to stop people taking Monday off and getting a four day weekend, or only make it a half day off, or something like that.

  19. Hear, hear, John! I’ve always thought Columbus Day was rather pointless, and I’d much rather have all day to get to the polls rather than trying to squeeze it in first thing in the morning before I go to work.

  20. I think this is the first Columbus Day I have ever had off in my working life. Feels strange.

    Mostly, it’s only government that observes this one. All my other employers would not have given one Election Day, either.

  21. Here! Here!

    Great idea. Election day as a holiday, but keep the liquor stores open. Some of us might need to drink as the returns come in.

  22. I am totally with you. I’ve always hated these “surprise! no mail!” holidays, and I love that you described them as such. An Election Day holiday, on the other hand, is something I could get behind — a day off of work (which, for those of us who like our jobs & work at home, is kind of lame) to do something productive and smug-making. Excellent.

  23. Totally with ya on this one. If the powers that be won’t go in for a voting weekend, we might as well trade in Columbus Day. (And, as someone who looks forward to getting the mail each day because you just never know what’ll be in there, I hate days with no delivery.)

    But I have to take issue with JJS @#1 up there; that argument is akin to the argument some have against giving money to charity… because they’ll *spend it wrong*. Just sayin’.

  24. Oh, crap. I just had the “No Mail?” reaction, too. Reading this post. My mailbox (a box of 20 mailboxes) was hit by a car last Thursday and we are still waiting for it to be replaced and our mail is being held until it is. Now this means they aren’t going to do it today. Hmm.

    I do know some First Nation friends who have a day of mourning on this day. It is really a slap in the face to them and really should be discontinued. I think it is almost akin to having some kind of “National Slave Trading Day” or something equally as awful. I’d go for an “Election” day.

  25. Crikey… I’ve been thinking so much about today being my two-year wedding anniversary (Friday the 13th weddings, FTW!) that I didn’t have a clue it was Columbus Day.

    An entire election day off? Nah, I’m not feeling that. It would require a four day weekend in order to work properly, I’ve never had any trouble voting at any point in the past, and the points JJS#1 brings up are on my mind as well.

    An 11 September holiday seems quite fitting to me, by contrast.

  26. Can’t support it. I love the Columbus Day gifts and all those great Columbus Day songs, not to mention the Columbus Day tree industry. Ones of people may be out of a job by recklessly getting rid of the holiday.

  27. …as a nominal Italian-American… Which reminds me, Scalzi in Italian means “The barefoot ones”. Kinda off-topic, I know..

  28. The Republicans would never go along with it. High turnout on Election Day historically favors the Democrats, which is probably why it’s still on a weekday in November.

  29. My employer- California State University- uses Columbus Day as a movable holiday- I believe it covers the day after Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t have a problem with trading it for some better holiday, and kind of like the election day idea- it’s important!

  30. I’d be glad to do the swap, although I’d definitely oppose making the Monday a holiday too, for exactly the reason @JJS mentions as #1.

    And I’m utterly, vigorously, and permanently opposed to making 9/11 a holiday. This guy says it better than I ever could: “For one thing, it risks making a holiday out of The Day America Got Its Ass Kicked. […] I don’t want to be Serbia, forever memorializing some church that got vandalized seven hundred years ago. At some point America needs to stop picking the national scab.”

  31. I kind of like Columbus day, since it’s the only one of the bogus federal holidays my company gives off. I’d trade it in a heartbeat for Election Day. That’s a much better deal than allowing mail voting for a month. I voted absentee once, then lived in mortal fear I’d learn something in the interim that might change my mind. Even with the current financial situation, the economy should be able to spare us for a day.

  32. No. Sorry. No can do.

    Columbus Day is my wedding anniversary. Delete it, and I’ll be screwed because it’s the only way I remember the date – and changing the holiday to something else won’t work, I’m am irrevocably programmed to associate my anniversary with the Great Navigator.

    I’m sorry to place this inconvenience on you, John, but you’re just going to have to suck it up.

  33. Momma mia, youa no celebrate cristobal columbo day johnny boy? justa for that you no longer geta any pizza!!

  34. I would swap. My reasons are half selfish: All through my childhood, we’d get Columbus Day off, which always fell close enough to my birthday that I’d have a long weekend or something close to it. Now that I’m a big person and work in an industry that doesn’t really care, I don’t get Columbus Day off and could not care less what they do with it.

    The other unselfish (semiselfish?) half thinks that people should vote, dammit, and we should facilitate that. (I also had election day off as a kid. I wonder if there’s some relevance there.)

    And why doesn’t Leif Erikson have a day, I ask you?

    (Seriously though — it’s not exactly a day rife with unmitigated joy, there. And I’m with William @ 32 regarding Sept 11. Viscerally.)

  35. William @ 32: Not that I want 9/11 to become a holiday either, but since 2001 it has been labeled as Patriot Day on the calendars, which is so much worse than ‘The Day America Got Its Ass Kicked Day’. Of course, Pearl Harbor Day is the original TDAGIAK Day…

  36. San Francisco State already dumped Columbus Day. I have to go to class today. However, in exchange we now get Cesar Chavez day off, the immigrant farm worker who agitated for immigrant workers’ rights. Pretty cool.

  37. Jim Wright @ 34: The date of your anniversary floats and it is always the second Monday of October? Nice of your wife to put up with that.

    Columbus Day is no mail and no school for the kidlet, but has never been a no-work day for me. They don’t even ‘celebrate’ it on the actual day any more (supposed to be 10/12). Since that was a Sunday this year, I suppose the folks who do get it off are glad it was moved to a fixed Monday/floating date holiday.

  38. What is this “day off” thing of which people speak? I do not understand.

    Of course this is probably more a result of us being short staffed since, oh, forever, and me not remembering the last time I had an actual weekend let alone a 3 day one.

    Dear new guy: please learn quickly! I want my weekends back!

  39. Sorry, can’t support it.

    I’m here at home enjoying my day off, catching up on house-chores, regaling the continuously open trading routes initiated by Cristobal Colon.

    I believe people should work on election day to make it harder to vote.


  40. I would advocate a day that is not only a bank holiday but a day that is a moratorium on all commerce. There is a huge section of the service-based workforce that not only doesn’t get bank holidays but that do the most work on those days.

    An election holiday would require all non-essential businesses to be closed. Of course a certain percentages of businesses related to transportation, public health, media etc. would have to be exempted from this but the vast majority would not.

    I think the country would do very well with a single day, every other year, when the only thing that anyone is obligated to do is vote.

  41. Making 9/11 a holiday isn’t about succoring wounds, but remembering a moment that galvinised us as a nation, and memorialising a tragedy in the hopes that we will rise above it.

    I don’t think we’re doing a very good job, frankly.

  42. Jardine, I know what you mean! Today is the day that all good people eat turkey and pumpkin pie. What is this Columbus Day that you speak of?

  43. I’d swap straight up for Colombo Day. Everyone would take the day off and wander around town wearing trench coats, chewing on cigars, and generally annoying people.

  44. I never really got Columbus Day either. Give me Election Day off (since I don’t get Columbus Day anyway) or change it to Amerigo Vespucci day or something. I can see why Native Americans might be a little upset that people get a day off work because of that dude. I’m sure that “National Slavery Day” would go over pretty poorly…

    As for 9/11 Day. Not so sure on that one. There’s a reason we don’t have a “War of 1812 Day”, ya know.

  45. I’m for the swap. But I’m also for more “no mail” days. All we get is junk mail anyway. If there are laws against e-mail spam and you can sign up for a national don’t-call list, there should be a don’t-junk-mail list to sign up for too. Junk mail is probably 25% of our trash output. (There’s no recycling where I live.)

  46. I like the idea of an election Holiday. I hate working that day.


    Oh, I guess if you work counting votes you wouldn’t get a holiday, but double pay would make it really nice for us.

  47. Not a bad idea, but why not just rename it “Canadian Thanksgiving” and celebrate accordingly? You all can sit down and eat scrumptious Thanksgiving foods, watch hockey, and give thanks for having a nice, polite, friendly northern neighbour instead of, say, Russia, or Belgium! America really lucked out there, if you asked me.

    So, Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am celebrating by finally reading the OMW books.

  48. It’s an excellent idea, but so is getting rid of the electoral college. Changes to election laws are only made by people who were elected using those laws, so they rarely are in favor of changing them. So it’ll never happen.

  49. I’m with you, John. The fact that Election Day is always on Tuesday, and hence separated from the weekend, should mitigate the concerns of JJS @1, although I also like JR @20’s idea of moving it to the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in November, to further separate the holiday from the weekend. This would force one to burn two vacation days rather than one in order to get an extended weekend.

  50. So there I was at the Altadena Post Office, with my SASE to Asimov’s in hand, hoping to verify the weight and hence postage. “What?” I said to the guys in the white plastic chairs nearby, lounging by the open door of the bakery, and reading the Sports section of the L.A. Times. “Did they have a holiday, and forget to tell me?”

    “Yup. Columbus Day.”

    “Well then, I said, “I’d better go discover a continent or something.”

    “So, you don’t work for the City?”

    “No, I work for whomever will give me a paycheck.”

    They laughed, and I rolled downhill towards my CPA’s office, hoping to find out when my wife and I would finally get our Stimulus Check.

    No sign of a parade. Remembering that episode of “The Sopranos” about beating the hell out of people who thought that Columbus oppressed Native Americans…

  51. A century or so ago election day was effectively a holiday in rural West Virginia. Although only the adult males could vote the entire family went to town and made an event of it. Lots of food, usually of the picnic lunch type, and lots of free drinks. And none of this secret ballot crap. A man would loudly announce who his vote was for to the election officials who would then record it. Since anyone could keep their own count things were honest. And since voting had an editorial aspect (“I’m voting for X and not that lying, shiftless skunk Y”) mixed with drinking it was a poor election that did not fill the jails.

  52. Columbus Day — it doesn’t bother me all that much. I don’t get it as a holiday, and it’s one less day I get bills in the mail. Just another “non-holiday” that only a few people get off from work.

    As far as getting election day as a holiday, it would probably become one of those lame Columbus Day-like holidays as well. No restaurant or shop will close because of all the potential customers and the opportunity for an Election Day sale, and the next thing you know, only city employees will get the holiday, just like Columbus Day.

    And as for a “9/11 Day,” don’t we already talk about 9/11 roughly 365 days a year? If we could have a “We Won’t Talk About 9/11 Today” holiday, where flags were required to be flown at full mast like it was just an ordinary day and people like Rudy Guiliani were placed under house arrest for a 24-hour period, that I could get behind.

  53. Absolutely agreed. Here in Hawaii, Election Day (general election) is a state holiday — all state and county/city offices closed, all schools closed.

    My spouse claims they have renamed Columbus Day as Discovery Day. but i don’t believe him.

  54. Two suggestions:

    1. Make it a Monday. (Keeps the whole three-day weekend flow.)
    2. Make it so that taxes are due that day instead of on April 15th. Pay your taxes and vote on the same day. Let’s see those bitches in Washington get away with half the stuff they pull with our money.

  55. Good point on the No Mail thing.

    What annoys me is the indiscriminate weirdness about whether or not you get the day off. Gah.

    Speaking of the mail, I should pick mine up. I keep forgetting to. Its the being in a new house. We haven’t got a system down yet.

  56. Oh, it’s ColumbUS day? Well, hell. I spent the whole day in my rumpled trenchcoat, smoking cigars and squinting at people in celebration of Colombo Day.

    Ah, well, I’d rather celebrate Peter Falk anyway :)

  57. Peter @55

    I always liked the postman in Lucifer’s Hammer was the who saved up the junkmail and delivered it once per month.

  58. I’m all for a November election day holiday – Columbus Day (which I don’t get off, but my high school and college son do) is pretty useless.

    And on a slight tangent, today’s interview of the Palin prospective son-in-law closes with the ironic fact that the boy did not register to vote, so won’t be supporting his MIL-to-be at the polls.

    Maybe the holiday needs to be in October, for registration purposes? ;)

  59. perfect logic. they’ll never go for it. (do you really see the post office labor force agreeing to this anyway?)

  60. Bryan@12:
    ” Perhaps we could start a Patriot Day on 9/11 or something like that.”

    Already have that one: The current White House resident declared Sept 11 “Patriot Day” several years back.

    Of course, it should not be confused with Patriots’ Day: April 19. That one has a particularly interesting history.

    April 19, 1775 , at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first shots of the Revoutionary War were fired. In 1861, pro-slave/secessionist Baltimorians celebrated the day by attacking Federal troops marching through on the way to Washington. On Patriots’ Day, 1993 The Branch Davidian compound in Waco, burned to the ground as it was besieged by the FBI. Then in 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal office building in Oklahoma City.

  61. Jaws @16

    “I have a better choice to trade in for an Election Day holiday: Veterans’ Day.”

    Where I work we do get Veterans’ Day. For a few years we did have Columbus Day rather than Veterans’ Day, starting around 1992. But a number of veterans complained and eventually we got Veterans’ Day back instead of Columbus Day. (Don’t remember if it is one of our floating holidays.)

    I would much rather have Veterans’ Day off than election day.


    US Army, 1966 – 1970, no Viet Nam tour.

  62. Damn straight. I’m with you. In fact, add that Voter Registration IN PERSON is also allowed on that day. Eff those damned forms each state is trashing!

  63. I like the idea. I think you are right on target. Also, being 1/4 Cherokee…there is a chunk of me that wants to bitch…Columbus didn’t discover America….we were already here….

  64. Christoforo Colombo was indeed Italian!!! As a fellow buckeye of Italian ancestry I can’t believe you would really dishonor his legacy, Scalzi, by proposing we eliminate his holiday. I am appalled!!!

  65. Thomas @ 48:

    I’m with you on pointing out that holidays aren’t really holidays for many people. Has anyone noticed who typically winds up with the day off on Labor Day, for example, and who is still required to work? Those on the lowest rungs of the ladder – usually laborers – often wind up needing to work regardless.

    In that vein – what if election day were a holiday? Lots of people who might otherwise have had time to vote might be caught between the kids at home (no school) and a must-do shift at work, and would be even less able to spend 30 or 40 minutes at their local polling place than they would if it were a regular day. [note-please forgive run-on sentence]

    If we’re going to do anything, it’s to strengthen laws allowing flexibility for voters to vote during work hours without penalty. Come to think of it, I recall fondly watching people wander the halls of my elementary school on election day, making time to come down and vote while running errands or between appointments.

  66. Practically speaking, I think its a good idea to make Election Day a holiday. Voting early in the morning or at 6 pm is always a hassle.

    James Richards @21:

    There is actually a good book by Christopher Hibbert (a British historian) that explores many of those arguments. It is called “Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution through British Eyes.” I really enjoyed this perspective on the revolution from “the other side.”

    I think that the notion of Great Britain as an oppressive empire is mostly obsolete these days. American authors like David McCullough (1776) also touch on the same points.

  67. Lousy idea.

    Crappy ideas.

    1) I already get Election Day off.
    2) I like having Columbus Day off. It’s usually right around my wedding anniversary. If you want to change the name to “Jack’s Wedding Anniversary Day”, I’m OK with that. I’ll miss driving down into to the North End, eating a big plate of ziti rigatoni puttenesca, sitting around the Columbus Tree and singing Columbus carols, though. (Mmmm…capers…) It’s almost as much fun as Evacuation Day. (Mmmm…corned beef…)
    3) Don’t mess with Patriot’s Day. It’s already a holiday, on the Monday nearest April 18th, when REAL patriots did things. … Oh, sorry, you don’t live in ME or MA? I guess we’re more patriotic here. Maybe the rest of America should get with the program and become more patriotic.

    You can have my spare holidays when you pry my cold dead fingers from around my PDA.

    Jack Tingle

  68. Columbus’ exact heritage is not known; his parents were likely Portuguese immigrants living in a city that was tolerant of such. At best, Columbus was Portuguese-Italian but he was not a native Italian.

  69. Well, today, Columbus Day is my own personal yearly holiday, one which everyone gets to celebrate in their own way, on their own day.

    Yes, Today is my Birthday! So I enjoyed the day off, and am just now getting to the computer after a lovely day.

    (happy natal day to me, happy natal day to me!) :)

  70. Great idea. Not working in government or on the East Coast, I don’t get Columbus Day off but I did work in the automotive industry where we got Election Day off and it was great. I don’t think people took it as an opportunity to slack off voting, instead it made the whole voting process smoother.

  71. Yeah, let’s replace Columbus day, my favourites are #1, veterans day or #2, arbor day. Much better to honor those that gave their lives for the US or to plant a tree (in their honor) than to honour some asshole who could only bring smallpox as far as Barbados. “Lief Erickson Day” anyone?

  72. John, I just discovered you. I made the bookstore hold the two they had until the third came in because I can’t be trusted not to cheat and read things out of order. I loved the humor in your characters in Old Man’s War.

    You’ll like WordPress. I’m in it. No problems. And don’t agonize over needing an assistant. You have content to produce so let somebody else handle the admin! I want more books and if your admin gets in the way, I’ll be very cranky. Suzi

  73. Louisiana has already done this, after a fashion. Of course federal offices are closed, but the schools are open. In exchange for Columbus Day, and maybe one other non-Louisiana holiday, state employees and schools (and pretty much everyone else) get two days off for Mardi Gras. Which is a heck of a lot better than a day for voting. (Which, by Louisiana tradition, one does early and often.)

  74. In France we vote on Sundays and it does not prevent us from voting event if it is on the week end.

    So why not a Holiday.

  75. For no reason I can discover in the UK we traditionally have our elections on Thursdays, and it’s not permitted to have them on the Weekend or a Public Holiday, not sure why.

    I find US election-day faintly amusing, but largely because it takes ya’ll so long to count all those votes (polls in the UK close at 10pm; last election some constituencies managed to declare before the pub closed at 11:30pm and almost everyone was done before 9am the following morning, and only the places that had to do the whole thing twice were that slow).

    The day after the election should be a Holiday, so that all the people who have to stay up all night counting and re-counting and checking votes, or watching whilst other people do that, and all the party people who have to stay up to see what happens can go get some sleeeeeeep.

  76. 92. Natasha – honey, have you compared the size of Britain to the US? Sweetie, we are lots bigger, cover 5 time zones (!) and have lots more people, too.

    Sometimes I’m amazed we get it all done in one night.

  77. @58: Yesterday was more of a football day for sporties, rather than hockey. See, hockey is for the evening, so the whole “watch one of the two official sports all day” thing won’t work very well.

    So many sports fans actually watched the million NFL games that were on, or the MLB play-offs (it is the play-offs, right? I’m sort of ig’nant of baseball) or both CFL games.

    I biked and took photos of crumbling infrastructure most of the day, then made a rack of lamb.

  78. As someone who works seven days a week (eff this economy): hands off my “you actually get a weekend this week” day.

    I think it’d be nice if we changed the name to something like “genocide remembrance day” and actually made a thing of it, but I got to take in a movie yesterday and fix my cell phone. So I’m not complaining.

    The mail thing did suck. I’m waiting on a netflix.

  79. BeVibe @92, we in Australia usually know the result by midnight. Polls shut at 6pm and we have at least 3 times zones – more during the summer. Our system is more complicated too. We don’t vote for a president we just vote for local MPs and it is a preferential system – you have to number the candidates for your electorate in order of preference. No first past the post for us so it can take some time to figure out who won. The senate is similar but you’re voting for the entire state. It is all done on paper too. But the trick is the size of each electorate. Each electorate has between 60k and 100k voters. You have a bunch or electoral officials count the returns at each voting station. They pass the results up the chain to the national election centre and Bob’s your uncle. Easy. 10 million voters or 150 million, it would take as long.
    Elections are on Saturday’s too.

  80. I forgot to mention. Oz elections are compulsory too. Actually voting isn’t. Attending the polling station and getting your name crossed off the electoral roll is the compulsory bit. You’d think that with compulsory voting you’d get a high invalid or informal vote where the vote has been screwed up or left blank or Mickey Mouse’s name written in or something. But no, we have a better than 95% formal vote rate, ie. valid votes.

  81. I don’ mind having columbus day off since it falls right after my birthday so I get a three day weekend around my birthday which is nice.

    However having election day off would make a lot more sense to the rest of the world, especially when most polling places get really crowded around 7-9 am and 4-6pm with people trying to vote before and after work.

  82. @Shane #97 — what is the actual fine for not voting? I’ve heard anywhere from $200 to $2,000 (and I’ve no idea if these wild rumors are even US or Australian dollars). It can’t be $2,000 though (can it???) — what if you’re sick or incapacitated on election day?

  83. This official version below is from the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) but the short version is there is a fine of $20 [about US$15 since last week :( ]. $50 if you refuse to pay and it goes to court. If you have a legit excuse, and there are many, you can get out of it easy. I did once – I can’t remember why, travelling I think. They will send you a “please explain” letter first.

    Voting at federal elections has been compulsory since 1924 for all citizens on the Commonwealth electoral roll. Anyone who is unable to provide a valid and sufficient reason to the Divisional Returning Officer for failure to vote at a federal election and who does not wish to have the matter dealt with by a Magistrates Court may pay a penalty of $20 (section 245).

    If an elector who has failed to vote refuses to pay the $20 penalty, then the matter may be referred to a Magistrates Court, where a fine of $50 plus costs may be ordered on conviction. Anyone who chooses not to pay the court-ordered fine will be dealt with by the Court accordingly, and this may involve community service orders, seizure of goods, or one or two days in jail. The penalty in such circumstances will be a decision for the local Magistrates Court and not the Australian Electoral Commission.

  84. Bevibe, honey, Canada has a much smaller population (but, you know, has the same number of voters per poll counter as the US), crosses 6 time zones, and has the same kind of problem Alaska has, only you can drop Alaska into the three territories without having it splash (oh, and one-sixth the population, without the benefit of two major metropolitan areas) as well as cities that rival Chicago in metro size and population.

    We vote today. I expect 90% accuracy in expectations by 2100 tonight, most polls finalized by 0000, and apart from the three or four forced recounts, perfect knowledge by the time I wake up.

    I’m amazed by your voting, too – just not the same way you are.

  85. In defense of the U.S., we only have one to three things to vote on in our elections, not 20. But still, paper and pencil, sorted by eyeballs and counted seems to work, even in civic elections where we do have 6 or 7 things to decide.

  86. Holidays: I’ve long been a proponent of abolishing ‘holidays’ altogether in favor of either additional leave/vacation days or personal days to be taken as the employee likes.

    As a fed (DoD civilian), I get a generous leave allowance and 10 federal holidays a year. As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather take _my_ holidays off at times other than the rest of the country.

    But then, I’d also restructure my workweek so that my ‘weekend’ was a Tue/Wed or Wed/Thu so as to avoid Sat/Sun weekend crowds and such …

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