Why is Election Day in November?

Election Day is one of the most important days of the year for Americans. It’s the one day of the year people are encouraged to leave work — to get out and vote. Believe it or not, several states consider it a public holiday. And it occurs during November. But why? Here’s how this gravely important day landed on a November Tuesday.

Multi colored hands drawn raising towards the sky with vote written in the image.

Election Day is one of the biggest days in the country. | TheaDesign/Getty Images

States used to be able to hold elections at any point in the month

As the United States turned into a more established country, the government decided that every state should hold their own elections to determine the president. In 1792, the U.S. allowed each state to hold an election within 34 days of the president being announced. At the time, inauguration day was in March. The elections were held in November because it was an ideal month in terms of agriculture and weather. The harvest for the season was done, yet winter hadn’t quite started. People would be able to go out and vote without having to worry about getting stuck in a winter storm.

In 1845, the government settled on one day for all elections

The month-long voting window worked for a while, but as the U.S. became more modern, the government realized they needed to adapt. Local governments would often announce their election results early. Since news was beginning to travel faster, people would hear election results before their state voted. This left states that were voting later in the month with a skewed view on the election outcome. It was causing people to vote differently, which wasn’t the point of elections.

The government decided to make one nationwide day in November for everyone to vote. They settled on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month, which means election day could fall anywhere from November 2 to November 8. Tuesday meant that people wouldn’t have to travel on a Sunday to get home and get to the polls. The specific date varies each year, but the general time of year will never change.

Since then, Inauguration Day has moved, but election day has stayed the same

At one point, Inauguration Day took place in March. It’s hard to believe it was that far out, but it was moved back to January in 1933. The U.S. once needed to have several months between Election Day and Inauguration Day in order to properly count all of the votes. But as the U.S. created new methods to count the voting, the long gap was no longer necessary. Plus, having so much time between the election and the Inauguration meant that things could get messy among the American people. For both reasons, Inauguration Day was moved back to January 20. Election Day stayed the same, and now there are roughly 10 weeks between the two days.

While the presidential election matters so much, it’s also important to note that other elections matter, too. The midterm elections are necessary to keep a check on the president and voice your opinion of whether the person in office is doing a good job. It’s also important at the state and local level, too, since those laws play a big role in today’s society. Get out and vote in every election possible — it’s your right as an American citizen.

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