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Merging Black Friday with Election Day

Musing about combining Black Friday and Election Day.

In the U.S.A. elections get held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That’s by statute, and only for general elections for federal office. States hold general elections occurring in the same year on this day as well, as it’s logistically easier.

It also makes sense for certain political factions that get a boost from synergies between top-of-ticket and down ballot elections.

But there’s another big event in November that could also benefit from the sort of synergy: Black Friday.

Black Friday takes place on the Friday after the fourth Thursday in November. It is a shopping holiday, where people buy gifts to give one another during the winter solstice and religious holiday season.

Estimates for the number of post-Thanksgiving weekend shoppers approach, if not exceed, the number of voters (something around 200 million for the weekend, 100 for the day), so it might make sense to merge the two in some way.

Imagine the scene, thousands of deal-addled post-Thanksgiving zomboids having to use their near-empty faculties to make their selections at the polls. Think of how much more ravenous the relatives would be in the Thanksgiving Dinner political discussions, if the votes were soon to be cast.

Think of Thanksgiving leftovers while watching the election returns, or better yet the arguments about whether to watch the football game or the results. Yes! Think of the conundrum and chaos that the sports-affiliated networks would have, cross-comentating the games and the votes (“That’s another House seat for Alaska Polytechnic, and the Republicans have picked up ten yards on a penalty.”).

The most straightforward way would be to simply push voting back to Black Friday or that weekend. Polling places could be relocated to malls, helping drive both shopping and voting.

But if the colder weather and commercial nature of Black Friday makes the whole spectacle a bit too raucous, maybe stores could simply offer discounts for those who had voted on the usual Election Day. That would also help avoid the problems with people traveling (though having a large contingent of the electorate absent might force jurisdictions to open their absentee processes and generally expand voting access, to pick up the slack).

Of course, we only hold federal elections biennially (except in case of special elections), so we might miss the combined force on the odd years (except in states with odd-year elections). We could always hold elections for the roles in the Christmas pageants or king of the mall or such.

Logistics aside, some sort of greater recognition of the relationship between this pair of November events would be appropriate. The shopping season refills the coffers for the corporations that contribute large amounts to the politicians’ campaigns.

In early November we pick the leaders that we pay for in late November. Sort of a restaurant arrangement, that.

On the other hand, given the scary ideas our politicians spout these days, maybe we would be better off merging Election Day with its closer peer, Halloween.

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