Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the general elections of public officials. It occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8.
The next election will be held on November 6, 2012. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Day_(United_States) )
A uniform date for choosing presidential electors was instituted by the Congress in 1845.
Many theories have been advanced as to why the Congress settled on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The actual reasons, as shown in records of Congressional debate on the bill in December 1844, were fairly prosaic. The bill initially set the national day for choosing presidential electors on “the first Tuesday in November,” in years divisible by four (1848, 1852, etc.). But it was pointed out that in some years the period between the first Tuesday in November and the first Wednesday in December (when the electors met in their state capitals to vote) would be more than 34 days, in violation of the existing Electoral College law.
So, the bill was amended to move the national date for choosing presidential electors forward to the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, a date scheme already used in the state of New York.
In 1845, the United States was largely an agrarian society. Farmers often needed a full day to travel by horse-drawn vehicles to the county seat to vote.
Tuesday was established as Election Day because it did not interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day, which was on Wednesday in many towns.
November was chosen because the economy was driven by farmers
“There’s religious, economic and political reasons we vote on Tuesday,” said Mower county auditor/treasurer Doug Groh. “It all stems from 1845.”
It was the year James Polk became our 11th president and Texas became our 28th state.
“Horse and buggy days, and the county seat was the polling place,” Groh told us.
“A lot of people might have to travel and stay overnight to vote,” added Austin city clerk Lucy Johnson. And since Sunday was a day of rest:
“They allowed Monday to travel to the county seat to vote, so then they voted on Tuesday,” Groh explained.
“November was their first slow month,” said Johnson.
And there was a safe political reason for keeping the vote in November.
“It’s far enough from April 15th when you last paid taxes you kind of forgot, and you haven’t started to think about paying taxes again on April 15th to influence your vote,” Johnson explained.
Some activists oppose this date on the grounds that it decreases voter turnout because most citizens work on Tuesdays, and advocate making Election Day a federal holiday or allowing voters to cast their ballots over two or more days. The United Auto Workers union has negotiated making Election Day a holiday for its workers at the U.S. domestic auto manufacturers.
Many states have implemented early voting, which allows the voters to cast ballots, in many cases up to a month early. Also, all states have some kind of absentee ballot system. The state of Oregon, for example, performs all major elections through postal voting that are sent to voters several weeks before Election Day. Some companies will let their employees come in late or leave early on Election Day to allow them an opportunity to get to their precinct and vote.
Move Election Day to the weekend…
Soboroff and Israel say Tuesday voting bars access to democracy and keeps America’s voter turnout chronically low. They point to census survey data showing that 1 in 4 people says he’s too busy or his schedule doesn’t allow him to get to the polls.
Their solution? Move Election Day to the weekend. Israel has been introducing and reintroducing a bill to move voting to the weekend.
But moving poll day turns out to be no easy task. The weekend voting bill keeps dying in committee. And earlier this year, when the Government Accountability Office talked to elections officials about how weekend voting would work, they came up with a list of logistical difficulties, from keeping equipment safe overnight to recruiting poll workers to work the weekend. There’s also, of course, no guarantee that moving Election Day would change voter turnout.
Then there’s the simple fact that Americans have gotten used to voting on Tuesday. “We’re a very traditional county, and that became a tradition in a lot of ways,” says Ritchie. “That’s the way people were accustomed to doing it, people could count on it, you could set your calendars on it.”
(Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/10/23/162484410/why-are-elections-on-tuesdays )
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Episode: What’s at Stake: PBS Election 2012
What’s at Stake leads viewers through issues at the center of this year’s campaigns: jobs and tax policy, entitlements and debt, healthcare, and foreign policy. Frontline, PBS Newshour,
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Latest news One Day before Election Day!
“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney make a frenetic dash to a series of crucial swing states on Monday, delivering their final arguments to voters on the last day of an extraordinarily close race for the White House.
After a long, bitter and expensive campaign, national polls show Obama and Romney are essentially deadlocked ahead of Tuesday’s election, although Obama has a slight advantage in the eight or nine battleground states that will decide the winner.”
“Romney, who would be the first Mormon president, has centered his campaign pitch on his own experience as a business leader at a private equity fund and said it made him uniquely suited to create jobs.
Obama’s campaign fired back with ads criticizing Romney’s experience and portraying the multimillionaire as out of touch with everyday Americans.”