MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Election Day is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Derek from Rochester wanted to know: Why is it that date?
It used to be elections had to take place sometime in the 34 days before the electors of the electoral college met in the first week of December.
That all changed in 1845, when Congress decided Election Day should be one single day.
It was an era of horse travel, when many voters were farmers. November was just after the harvest but before the brutally cold weather. It also gave enough time to count the votes and get the president to Washington, D.C. Back then, the inauguration took place in March.
Tuesday was chosen, because Sunday was considered a day of rest. Some people had to travel for a day to get to their polling location, which was often only at the county seat.
As for the first Tuesday after the first Monday: One theory is that lawmakers didn’t want Election Day to fall on Nov. 1, All Saint’s Day, a Catholic holiday. Another theory is that the later Tuesday would out the dates slightly closer to when the electoral college met.