There are various reasons floated for elections being on Thursdays. Let’s explore some:
The transfer of power is less disruptive
One possibility is that the transfer of power between governments would lend itself kindly to a Thursday:
- Polling Day is Thursday
- Result is confirmed on Friday
- Prime Minister has Saturday and Sunday to appoint a Cabinet
- Things are ready to roll on Monday
Now this seems like the most logical of the possibilities, but in some cases forming a new Cabinet isn’t that cut-and-dry.
It was traditionally Market Day
Another possibility is that it was Market Day. Why does this matter? Because if you had to vote in the nearest large settlement, doing it on Market Day would mean that people would be more likely to actually be there anyway, so they would be more likely to engage with the system. As an individual, this is the one I always believed to be true.
Friday was Pay Day
In the days before bank transfers, people would get paid on Fridays. As such, they would have money when the results are announced. Which means that they would have been able to have an almighty celebration and turn their salaries into alcohol.
Do we know which of these reasons is true though? Unfortunately not. Much like a lot of British constitutional history, the true reason has been lost to the annals of time. We just do it now because ‘it’s the way we do things’.