Why Is The Election On A Tuesday? It Made More Sense Over A Century Ago

If everyone in the country is supposed to vote, then why is the election on a Tuesday? After all, it seems like a weekend voting day would make a lot more sense, considering people generally don't work weekends. It's already tough enough getting people to come to the polling stations between working hours and you'd think having voting day fall on the weekend would be conducive to a bigger voting turn out. But, there's an interesting history behind it — one that dates back over a century. It might not make sense nowadays, but back then, it was definitely the most logical choice.

Well, as it turns out, election day has fallen on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November for many, many years now — ever since the law was first passed in 1845, in fact. Prior to that, states could basically vote on their own time, as long as they got their ballots in 34 days before the first Wednesday of December (which is not too different in theory from a modern day absentee ballot, when you think about it).

So, they chose election day over 150 years ago — but... why? Tuesday's just so random. Well, in the context of ninetheenth century America, it actually made a lot more sense. According to the History Channel, back then, most people made their living farming — and on top of that, they tended to be practicing Christians. Because of this, people didn't want to vote during the Sabbath on the weekend, nor did they want to miss their opportunity to sell their farming wares on market day on Wednesday. That, in addition to the longer travel times (since cars weren't invented yet), made Tuesday a surprisingly logical choice for election day.


Oh, and the reason it's specifically the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month? According to About.com, that's because they never wanted election day to fall on November 1st, which used to be a celebrated religious holiday called All Saints' Day.

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So, think of it this way: While "the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November" sounds confusing, it's not nearly as confusing as "the first Tuesday of November unless it falls on Nov. 1, in which case it'll be the first Thursday of the month." Right?

Any way you cut it, it's time to get out and vote this November 8.