We’re less than one month from the big day — Election Day. And Americans (for the most part) will vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
But do you know why Tuesday is election day? Moreover, do you know why we vote on the first Tuesday after a Monday in November? As a country, we’ve been doing this since 1845. You would be surprised to learn that many people (including elected officials and candidates) have no idea why we vote on the first Tuesday after a Monday in November.
According to a report from the Christian Science Monitor, before 1845 states were allowed to open polling stations in the 34 days before the Electoral College met on the first Wednesday in December. You won’t find anything in the Constitution about which day should be election day. So how did we end up with the first Tuesday after a Monday in November as our election day?
- Why November?
- Why the first Tuesday after a Monday in November?
The answer may be due to farming and faith.
In the middle of the 19th Century, America was a country of farmers. That reality meant that maximizing productivity during each day of a growing season was vital to the family farm. November represented the first month when farmers might have time to travel to a city to cast their votes.
Travel times also played into the decision to make Tuesday the day for voting. If overnight travel was required to get to a polling place, Monday was out of the question as Sunday was a day of worship for most Americans.
And what about the strange stipulation that election day is “the first Tuesday after a Monday in November? What prompted that very specific limitation? It’s all about faith. November 1st is “All Souls Day” (All Souls Day is a holy day of obligation – which means Catholics will be expected to be in church). By designating the first Tuesday after a Monday for voting, it’s virtually impossible for Catholics in America to have a conflict on election day.
A group called “Why Tuesday?” has been pushing to move voting from Tuesdays to weekends for years. In February of this year, “Why Tuesday?” posted MItt Romney’s answer to the question.
President Obama has not answered the “Why Tuesday?” question during this election cycle. However, we was interviewed on the topic back in 2008 and talked about making it easier to vote by supporting popular Democratic party ideas like; same-day registration and weekend voting. (Obama’s answer starts at the 1:52 mark.)
The face of Why Tuesday? is a gentleman named Jacob Soboroff. In April, Jacob addressed a TED audience. His theory is that moving elections from Tuesdays to weekends would increase voter turnout.
Where do you stand on moving election day from Tuesdays to weekends? Take our Blaze poll.