Booze & Politics Mix Just Fine

voteelectSouth Carolina recently became the last state to repeal its ban on alcohol service on statewide election days. I wonder if allowing drinking in North Carolina now before and after elections will change the character of elections and electoral politics in that state…..?

No, I don’t wonder.

It will have no impact whatsoever because. like most blue laws that are still in place today, it serves no purpose to begin with.

Originally bans on drink service on election days were meant to curb corruption when polling places often were located in saloons. You may be shocked to hear that there were votes being bought with promises of drinks. Shock, you’ll be, I’m sure.

For years, most polling places have been located in community centers, churches and other quasi-public places that rarely have any commercial purpose. Still, in North Carolina, the anti-drinking election day law sat on the books until today.

It turns out that Blue Laws have been on the outs in the U.S. for quite some time. Across the country counties have been going dry and bans on Sunday alcohol sales have been disappearing. The reason is there are very few constituencies that make a profit on Blue Laws.

However, note that those restrictive alcohol-related laws that do still stay on the books tend to be those in which some group profits mightily. These are almost always distribution and sales laws. It comes back to one thing: Booze Money and Politics.

Personally, if I thought that prohibiting alcohol sales on Election day would significantly increase voter turnout, would make voters think more clearly or would lead to loftier political debates, I’d be all for it. But I think it’s pretty clear that this hasn’t been the case.


4 Responses

  1. Miki Finnin - June 6, 2014

    Tom, this is my first introduction to the term “blue laws”. All I know it as in Oklahoma is the “good ole boy” system. It stinks! Can’t buy anything over 3.2 etoh on Sundays, surely can’t buy anywhere but liquor stores and can’t mail wine in the state. To the benefit of who?!? Obviously financially motivated for sure. Just stupid, I say! Miki

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