Why do we have elections on a Thursday?

  Colin 10:26 09 May 10
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Why do we have elections on a Thursday? With the recent debacle over not being able to vote for reasons such as running out of time, not having enough ballot papers, would it not make sense to hold the election on a Saturday or even a Saturday and Sunday? More people are not at work and schools would not need to close. Also, why are schools used as polling stations. I appreciate that in some areas a school is the only suitable place but in my area there are plenty of public halls that can be used instead but the local primary school was used. No doubt the pupils don’t complain about it!

  bremner 10:35 09 May 10

Legally an election must be held on a working day. i.e. not a weekend or bank holiday.

The last election not on a Thursdays was 1931. It is said to be because it tied in with Thursdays being market day.

  johndrew 10:41 09 May 10

Tradition I think.

The "running out of time" problem appears to be one of organisation and the preference of the electorate. I doubt such queues existed for the whole day and perhaps certain ballot areas are oversubscribed. Perhaps the more public buildings that are used in oversubscribed areas the better.

The lack of ballot papers is a disgrace. Those providing them know exactly how many voters are registered to cast a vote at each ballot station.

Perhaps originally the use of schools was either because of a lack of any other facility or because each village used to have at least a school. There may also be an argument that it inspired children to want to vote - I`m far from certain.

  Quickbeam 10:42 09 May 10

"It is said to be because it tied in with Thursdays being market day."

What better reason than as quintessentially British as that one is...

  johndrew 10:43 09 May 10

"Legally an election must be held on a working day. i.e. not a weekend or bank holiday."

Thanks for that. I was unaware it was in the Act.

  Quickbeam 10:46 09 May 10

"The lack of ballot papers is a disgrace."
Why don't they just print a ballot paper off on a simple desktop printer as they are entered onto the polling station system? Have returning officers not become computer literate yet?

  bremner 10:48 09 May 10

I think it was because in rural areas people only travelled to towns once a week for market and therefore this encouraged more people to vote.

  Forum Editor 12:26 09 May 10

but I can tell you that since 1935 all general elections have been held on a Thursday.

  morddwyd 14:40 09 May 10

"the feckless working man could be relied on to have run out of money by Thursday so would be sober and have nothing better to do with his time."

The feckless working man wouldn't even have the vote in the times we are referring back to, and even if he did, he voted the way his boss/landlord/squire told him to.

  bremner 14:58 09 May 10

We are talking since 1931!

  BT 17:06 09 May 10

The choice is now more limited than it used to be in that it must now have suitable and level access for wheelchair users among other considrations.
Schools generally have suitable provisions as well as being in places which are generally within walking distance of the area which they cover, particularly Primary schools.

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