WHY are U.S. elections held on Tuesdays?While flipping...

salmagundi

October 20, 1992

WHY are U.S. elections held on Tuesdays?

While flipping through a copy of David Feldman's "Imponderables: The Solutions to the Mysteries of Everyday Life," we came across a brief history on this topic.

There was a time when election dates were highly unpredictable. In provincial America there were no standard dates for voting and people had to travel to their county seats to cast their ballots.

After the Revolutionary War, election dates within states grew more standardized, but there was little uniformity among different states. Mondays and Tuesdays were the most popular days, and most voting took place in the spring and autumn so as not to interfere with bad traveling weather. After 1776, more polling places were opened to cut back on the amount of traveling voters had to do.

The first Tuesday in November was settled on as the date for presidential elections before the election of 1848. Most states agreed to move their state elections to the same date. However, some states refused to let go of their early-to-vote tradition.

Maine's state elections were held on the first Monday of September, and Indiana's, Ohio's, and Pennsylvania's were in October.

National party leaders strongly believed the early elections could predict trends relevant to the presidential election in November and pressured these states to unify their national and state elections in November. All but Maine consented. Hence came the saying, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation."

Maine held on to its September Mondays until 1949, when it moved all elections to November.

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