• Civics Junkie

Why Tuesday Elections?

Have you ever wondered why the Presidential election is always held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November? We all have. It's such an odd floating date, why isn't it just a standard date?


Much like the reasoning for Daylight Savings Time, the logic is dated and was created for the benefit of farmers. Although modern electricity, agricultural technology and efficient infrastructure and land travel have made the historic reasoning obsolete, we still abide by the principles - if for nothing else, nostalgia. The Presidential election takes place in early November for a couple of reasons.


  • First, the election is held in the late fall because it is typically post-harvest season. Farmers would not e burdened during their busiest cycle of the year. Also, November was early enough that severe winter weather was unlikely.

  • Second, Election Day was appointed to Tuesday because the polling locations were in city centers and they wanted to allow farmers ample time to travel to participate. They anticipated that it would take some voters an entire day to travel to the polling booths. As such, they simply could not conduct the vote on Monday because Sunday was the Sabbath and they would need Monday to travel.


Why not just conduct the election on the first Tuesday of the month? There are 2 reasons:

  1. Back in the 1800's, it was customary to do the bookkeeping on the 1st of the month. If Election Day fell on November 1st, it would create problems with bookkeeping. And who knows what would happen if bookkeeping schedules had to be adjusted every 4 years...

  2. November 1st was All Saints Day. They did not want Election Day to overlap.


So, there you have it. Election Day isn't specifically the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November - although it is. It's just intended to be the first Tuesday after November 1st.




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