Back in 1845 when many in our country farmed for a living, a law went into effect making Election Day “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” As this Counter article states, Tuesday was selected as the day so that farmers could go to church on Sunday and still have a whole day or two to ride horseback to the faraway polling station. November was the chosen month because it was after harvest time.
Nobody was farming on Election Day – they were voting and riding their horses back to the farm. It was also treated as a holiday – a day to gather together in public to eat, drink and be merry. (Well, at least for those individuals who weren’t restricted from exercising their right to vote, as so many of our nation’s farm workforce has been since the founding of this nation.)
Today, most Americans work on Election Day. Sure, there’s no need to clear the schedule that day to ride horseback and return home. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could have the schedule clear to prioritize voting, protect access to the polls, and communally help each other in our efforts to get out and vote? Plus, in this year of historic voter turnout, it’s taking 8-10 hours in some parts of the country to stand in line to vote. When you’re working on the ranch all day and aren’t fortunate enough to live in place with mail-in ballots or early voting, how are you going to vote?
Civic engagement is a cornerstone of Farm Commons’ mission. But that doesn’t mean we tell farmers what the law should be. Rather, we create conversation around what the law is. Unless we know what we’ve got, we can’t be fully informed citizens, able to choose representatives that will help change the things that aren’t working. At the same time, creating respectful dialogue that leads to consensus is also core to our purpose. Now, more than ever, democracy demands it. Please, join us in bringing your voice to the conversation!