Election Day in America is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, even though the first presidential elections were actually held on January 7, 1789.
The change occurred in 1792 during the first midterm elections. November was thought to be ideal because harvesting work was done but the brutal winter was not in full force. This made it easier for rural farmers to travel to their voting place; usually a day’s journey.
At first, there was no official day in November for elections, as ballots were calmly counted and delivered to the Electoral College in January.
However, in 1845, Congress decided on the first Tuesday after the first Monday. This was to make sure Election Day never fell on November 1 (the Catholic holiday of All Saint’s Day), and also to ensure rural voters would not have to travel on Sunday.
Like many traditions, this one is now antiquated. Organizations such as Why Tuesday have pushed for a more convenient voting day, such as Saturday, though it is uncertain if this would have any affect on voter turnout.
Credit: Elise Roedenbeck