A November Election Date

Election day is always a Tuesday. But it did not start that way. States were allowed to hold elections any time they wanted within a 34-day period but no later than the first Wednesday in December. This did cause problems with some states voting earlier and it could have influenced states who held late elections. If you had ancestors in America on March 3, 1845 there was a change that would remain to this day.

The US Congress passed a federal law setting the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as ‘Election Day’, making a uniform day that all states voted. Being the first half of the 1800s, most Americans were farmers and may have lived quite a distance from a polling location. Some days were already set for the market day such as a Wednesday and of course church on Sundays.

So the Congress selected Tuesday to have election day. November was selected since some farmers were done with their harvest by then and it was not cold enough yet to prevent travel. So the US Congress was really thinking of your ancestors, most who were farmers, what was best for them.

It is not a federal holiday but many have suggested that idea so people can be off from work to vote.

Election day is during even-numbered years. There could be county, state and federal elections those years.

Photos: Farmers in 1845; Voting booths in the 1800s; Voting -Election Day

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Voting was Wild in 1870s-1880s

Mid-Term Elections in 1918

Make Them Count

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