Featured Image for Techly Explains: Why do the British always vote on Thursdays?

Techly Explains: Why do the British always vote on Thursdays?

The UK is holding a snap election on Thursday (Friday in Australia) to decide who will lead Britain in a post-Brexit world.

Although elections are supposed to be held every five years – and the next one was originally scheduled for 2020 – “snap” elections can be held if a two-thirds majority of Parliament agree to it or if there’s a vote of “no confidence” in the current government.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who came into power following Brexit, went with the first option. After repeatedly denying that she would call a snap election, May decided to dissolve Parliament on April 18, securing the two-thirds majority in the U.K.’s House of Commons.

May’s call for an election was a shock but one thing that is not so surprising is that the British will all be casting their votes on Thursday. So why is it always this particular day?

According to E.M. Syddique, a researcher at the Electoral Reform Society, the British have been voting on Thursday since 1918, with the exception of 1922, 1924 and 1931.

Syddique said that Thursday was chosen because certain factors made Friday and Sunday undesirable choices.

Voters were usually paid their wages on Fridays and would head to the pub where it was thought they would be subject to pressure from Conservatives.

Sunday was no good because Church ministers – who were generally Liberal – had an influence on people too. Thus, Thursday was chosen since it was the furthest from Friday and Sunday.

But this is not the only theory for Thursday voting.

Elections expert, Ian McAllister, told ABC News that it is because of Britain’s rural history.

“Going back to the 19th century [Thursday] was market day”, he said. “In rural times, [that] was when the majority of the population would come together.”

So according to McAllister, Thursday was the “obvious day” because everyone from the surrounding areas would be coming into town anyway.

Since urbanisation has happened and pubs and churches no longer hold such sway, perhaps the British should think about a day change. McAllister added that weekend elections do have a higher turnout.

The BBC put together a neat election guide for non-Brits, which is handy for any curious Commonwealth citizens.

In this case, the U.K could learn a little from one of its former colonies. Here in Australia, we do it right.

On Saturday and with snags. You just can’t beat a democracy sausage, people.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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