Tomorrow We Vote

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Lesson 1: Why Do We Vote on Novembers and on Tuesdays?


On our weekly lessons, we’ll discuss why we vote on Novembers and Tuesdays for election dates. It’s pretty simple as to why that happens but with Early Voting methods, personal voting days can vary for each individual voter. Click below to view the video and join TWVocalize to discuss it.

Transcript:

Have you ever wondered why federal elections are always held on a Tuesday or why presidential and mid-terms are held in November? Well, believe it or not but farming has a lot to do with it. In 1845, Congress passed a federal law designating the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as Election Day.* But let’s backtrack to even before that time. When the Founding Fathers met at the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787 for a brief moment, they left things unresolved and were too exhausted to continue. One of the items left on the table was when federal elections should be held? Considering that incomplete, states were left to decide their own voting dates and that left the country with several decades of chaotic voting timetables.**

This brings us to 1845 where lawmakers had decided that Monday couldn’t be a possible voting day due to traveling to polls in their buggies on Sundays which was the Sabbath. And considering most worked as farmers and lived far from their polling stations, they decided Tuesdays would be a much better fit since Wednesdays was Market Day for farmers.* Now, this explains Tuesdays but why November? Well, Spring and early Summer elections interfered with planting season and late summer and early fall elections would overlap with the harvest season. November fit the bill because by then, the harvest was complete and in time before the harsh winters.

As a result, Election Day is only a civic holiday in states which include Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and others as well as the territory of Puerto Rico. Some states have made it easier to vote early and by mail which gives voters better opportunities to cast their decisions without waiting till election day to stand in poll lines. Maybe one day voters will come together to help make Election Day a federal holiday to give people the opportunity to vote and increase turnout. That will be up to you!

*History.com
** NPR

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