(WHTM) — For many years, elections in the United States have been held on Tuesdays in November. But why does that happen, and when did it become a norm in American society?
According to History.com, this started back in 1845. This was when Congress passed a federal law designating the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as election day. Prior to this, states were allowed to hold elections whenever they wanted to, 34 days before the first Wednesday in December.
But why was a Tuesday picked and why in November?
History.com said that the answer comes from the population makeup of the 19th century in the United States. In the 1800s, many Americans were farmers and lived far away from polling places. It took many Americans at least an entire day to go and vote, so lawmakers allowed a two-day window for election day because of this reason.
So, when lawmakers were deciding which day of the week to use, they realized that weekends wouldn’t work because many farmers would go to church on Sundays. Wednesdays also would not work as that was traditionally a market day for farmers.
So, they chose Tuesday since it was the most convenient day at the time.
The reason election day falls during November is also due to farming culture. Spring and Summer elections would get in the way of the planting season, and late summer and early fall elections were getting in the way of the harvest. So, the later fall months of November were chosen, since the harvest would be complete then, and the harsh conditions of winter would not interfere with the elections.
So, it wasn’t random that elections are always held on Tuesdays. It was to help farmers back in the 19th century and has been the same way ever since.