These Weird Voting Facts From History Really Put The 2016 Election Into Perspective
Election Day is fast approaching; by the end of the day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, we'll all have had the chance to voice our opinions and elect the next leader of our country. Election Day hasn't always looked like it does today, though; in fact, these weird voting facts show that the process has undergone quite a makeover throughout the last several centuries. I think what strikes me most is how what seems to be an inherit human right was once denied to so many people — in fact, most people (basically anyone who wasn't a white dude). The fight for the right to vote was long and ugly.
Politics of days past had its own way of doing things. Oddly, it was sometimes a lack of government and regulations that made voting so interesting. While the laws governing voting and elections are now more stringently laid out and enforced, traditions and behaviors of generations before us will undoubtedly cause you to stop and think.
We've come a long way. There are still some bizarre happenings here and there, as evinced by... well, the entire 2016 election cycle; but I think the "ugly stage" of voting has thankfully come and gone. I bet you weren't familiar with this voting trivia — I certainly wasn't.
1. Voting In Space
In 1997 the first vote was cast... from outer space! Texas allows American astronauts to cast their ballots from orbit, which then make their way to their home county.
2. The Cabinet Takes Over
In theory, the cabinet can overthrow the President if the majority votes that he can't fulfill his duties, and transfer the office to the Vice President.
3. Why We Vote When We Do
We vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November because many years ago, traveling to polling places required horse and buggy. People didn't want to force voters to travel on a Sunday and disrupt church, and they wanted to avoid having voting fall on All Saints Day; also, Wednesday was market day. So they chose Tuesdays. Fun fact: In 2016, Election Day is the latest it can possibly be according to this rule.
4. The Best Voting Weather
November was picked as the month for voting because it was the end of fall harvest, but winter weather hadn't yet made the roads difficult to travel.
5. Don't Drink And Vote
Dozens of states used to have laws restricting buying alcohol on Election Day, since it was used to buy votes in the past. South Carolina was the last state to do away with their laws, in 2014.
6. Vote, Or Else
Australian citizens over the age of 18 can be fined if they do not vote. (It's worth noting that U.S. voter participation is abysmal, especially compared to many other countries; just 53.6 percent of voting age individuals voted in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Pew Research Center.)
7. A Very Exclusive Club
During the first election in 1789, only white men who owned property could vote — thereby excluding 94 percent of the population. 94 percent.
8. The Runner-Up
Until 1804, the candidate who got the second most number of votes became the vice president.
9. Voting Behind Bars
Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote from prison.
10. Before There Was An Election Day
The Constitution didn't define a specific Election Day; so in the early 1800s, people could vote anywhere from April to December.
Seriously, though, everyone — on Nov. 8, get out there and vote. Your vote matters. Everyone's vote matters. So make it count.
Images: Hannah Burton for Bustle; Giphy (10)