A look back at history tells us that Election Day has been held on Tuesdays ever since 1845. Back then, most Americans were farmers, and many lived in very rural areas. Since the polling places were at county seats, most had to travel far to exercise their right to vote. This travel was slow going in buggies, on horseback or by walking. Not wanting to interfere with people’s religious beliefs, Tuesday was chosen so that voters would be able to start their journeys on Monday.
The time of year that Election Day is held (fall) was also chosen due to the agricultural population. By November, most of the farmers had harvested all of their crops and were a lot less busy with their farming responsibilities. The first Tuesday after the first Monday was chosen as Election Day for two reasons:
- November 1st is All Saints’ Day, a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics.
- Most merchants tried to settle their books for the proceeding month on the first of the month. With this in mind, it seems that Congress was worried about the financial impact of tallying sales and how that might affect the voting of those business people.
So even though our country has changed drastically since 1845, and farming responsibilities and travel are not the big issues they used to be, we still hold Election Day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.
Get out and vote.