On this upcoming Election Day, surprise your friends with these interesting facts and Election Day trivia!
Election Day Trivia
- Why a Tuesday in November? In 1792, law officially designated this day as Election Day each year because this guaranteed that no more than 34 days could pass between the first Wednesday in December, which is when the Electoral College met to vote on the President and Vice President. An early November date was also considered a wise idea because it enabled more voters to go to the polls. Back then, most Americans were farmers, so this date ensured that farmers weren’t trying to find time to vote during the busy harvest season but the date wasn’t so late in the year that voters needed to battle winter storms while they walked, rode horses, or drove buggies to the polls.
- Prison Votes? Felons in both Maine and Vermont are allowed to vote and have been allowed since those states were founded in 1820 and 1872, respectively.
- Never voted? President Zachary Taylor never once voted prior to his electoral victory. He never voted and kept his political beliefs a secret all up until his 1848 election.
- Ages, young and old. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest person to ever become president. He was only 42 years old, and as William McKinley’s vice president, became president when McKinley was assassinated. President John F. Kennedy was the youngest to be elected to the office, aged 43 years when he was elected. Who are the oldest presidents? Donald Trump is the oldest to be elected at 70 years of age, while Ronald Reagan was the oldest to hold the office – he was 77 years old when his presidency came to a close.
- Raise your hand. In the early days, votes were not cast by a secret ballot but by raising hands or by voice. By the mid-1800s, some states were using paper ballots but voters or party leaders were responsible for bringing the ballots to the polls and the votes were public. Massachusetts was the first state to pass a law requiring ballots to be secret in 1888. The trend spread across the United States and in 1891, Kentucky was the last state to adopt this law.
- Old enough to vote? The legal voting age across the United States was once 21 but in 1943, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age to 18. This became an official part of the U.S. Constitution when the Twenty-Sixth Amendment was ratified in 1971.
- Get to the polls! About 60% on average turn out for presidential elections while only 40% come to the polls during midterm elections. For local elections, the turnout is even lower, with an average of about 26% of voters turning out – and some mayors have been elected with fewer than 10% of eligible voters coming to the polls.
- Boozy campaigns. George Washington’s entire campaign budget for his 1758 election to the House of Burgesses was spent on liquor – 50 British pounds to purchase 160 gallons of alcohol that was given to 390 voters. This was a tradition in England, one that Washington borrowed and employed in Virginia.
- The Nineteenth Amendment was adopted in 1920, giving women the right to vote, and since 1964, more women voters have gone to the polls than male voters during presidential election years.
- Gerald Ford is the only person who served as president and vice president without having been elected to either office.