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Over 300 Companies Will Close for Election Day to Get Out the Vote

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Tomorrow will be a paid vacation day for thousands of Americans, as more than 300 companies close their doors and urge employees to go vote.

Election Day in the United States has been held on a Tuesday since 1845, a time when many eligible voters organized their weeks around farm chores and the Sabbath. The decision was relatively sensible at the time, but these days, many argue, the weekday vote is only hurting our democratic process. The U.S. ranks 138th out of 172 countries when it comes to voter turnout, while countries with weekend votes are faring far better.

The hassle of getting to the polls can vary by location. Some states mandate paid election-day leave so that workers can vote, while others allow a few hours of unpaid leave as long as it’s requested ahead of time. Still others make no provisions for employees at all, leaving would-be voters scrambling to vote early or endure long lines before or after work. It’s no wonder so many Americans just don’t bother.

But private organizations can make their own Election Day rules, and some of the biggest employers in the U.S. are doing just that. So far, more than 300 companies, including General Motors, Ford, Patagonia, and many publishers and tech startups have pledged to close their doors tomorrow in order to give employees the time to vote.

This year marks the first such closing for some organizations, but at Hearst, giving non-news operations employees the day off is an annual tradition that was started by company founder William Randolph Hearst himself at the turn of the 20th century.

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario has pledged to temporarily shutter all her company’s stores, its headquarters, and its distribution center on Tuesday. "As a business, we have a unique ability to take a stand and choose to prioritize the health of the planet over profit, and I think it's important we take that opportunity when it truly matters," Marcario said in a statement.

The bipartisan nonprofit Take Off Election Day is keeping a running list of companies offering paid time off to vote. If your employer isn’t among them, you can visit takeoffelectionday.org to send an anonymous email urging them to get on board the democracy train.

[h/t CNN Money]

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politics
The Secret Procedure for the Queen's Death
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Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images

The queen's private secretary will start an urgent phone tree. Parliament will call an emergency session. Commercial radio stations will watch special blue lights flash, then switch to pre-prepared playlists of somber music. As a new video from Half As Interesting relates, the British media and government have been preparing for decades for the death of Queen Elizabeth II—a procedure codenamed "London Bridge is Down."

There's plenty at stake when a British monarch dies. And as the Guardian explains, royal deaths haven't always gone smoothly. When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the blue "obit lights" installed at commercial radio stations didn’t come on because someone failed to depress the button fully. That's why it's worth it to practice: As Half as Interesting notes, experts have already signed contracts agreeing to be interviewed upon the queen's death, and several stations have done run-throughs substituting "Mrs. Robinson" for the queen's name.

You can learn more about "London Bridge is Down" by watching the video below—or read the Guardian piece for even more detail, including the plans for her funeral and burial. ("There may be corgis," they note.)

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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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