It’s Monday afternoon. Get your drink on before tomorrow, because you won’t be able to buy any alcoholic beverages anytime on Tuesday until after the polls close at 6 p.m.
I called around various bars and restaurants and they all acknowledged that yes, it was true, but nobody seemed to know why—even though you’d think it would affect their business in a mild to significant way.
Claudia Jackson, owner of Old Town Wines and Liquors in the Highlands, knows that it can and will ding the day’s receipts. “We’re closed until six,” she says. So why the inconvenience for those who want to purchase beer, wine or liquor? “Because it’s been like that forever,” she says—technically, since Prohibition, when vote buying ran rampant in some areas, and some bars doubled as polling places. “I think the only two states that ban alcohol sales on Election Day are Arkansas and Kentucky.” Unfortunately, she says, that is unlikely to change because there is nobody speaking out to sponsor a repeal in the state legislature. “There’s no voice collectively demanding that it occurs,” she says. “Not many people know we’re closed, but we know there are a lot of people who don’t know it’s Election Day, either.”
So what’s the logic behind this? “A long, long time ago [candidates] would actually try to go to the polling places and try to buy votes with alcohol, but that was a long, long, long time ago,” Jackson explains. “There’s a lot of strange ABC laws out there.” (ABC is Alcohol Beverage Control, the state beverage agency that handles licensing and distribution.
Indiana repealed its own blue law regarding Election Day liquor sales only this past March.
Jackson doesn’t plan on kicking back with a cold one tomorrow—at least not during business hours. “It’s a good day to do inventory,” she says. “We’ll be doing inventory and every year people will be trying to get in. I just put up the sign, and they’ll still try to open the door.”