History of Election Day
Why do we vote on a Tuesday in November in the US?
Historically, the United States was an agrarian society where much of the calendar revolved around farming. In 1840, Congress set voting day on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This time provided a convenient month for farmers, who needed to travel perhaps overnight to the county seat’s polling places, following the Autumn harvest season. The weather would not yet have turned bad enough to make rural roads unpassable.
Rural Americans would begin their trip on Monday, rather than on Sunday lest their travel interfere with Sunday worship services. It had to be on a Tuesday following the first Monday so as not to fall on November 1st, a holiday known as All Saints Day. Additionally, the first day of the month was when accounting books were brought up to date.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian