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Dale’s Daily Data: Election Day

Before 1845, states could hold presidential elections any day in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December.  That’s when the electoral colleges in each state would meet to elect the president.  But in 1845, Congress adopted a law establishing a single nationwide election day – the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. And the reason for that is that this was once a nation of farmers.  November was selected because by then the harvest was done and the weather wasn’t too bad that it would be too hard for people to travel.

Tuesday was selected because in some cases people would have to travel long distances to vote and they didn’t want them to have to travel on Sunday – a religious day of rest.  So Monday and Wednesday would be a travel day and Tuesday would be voting day and at the same time allow the horses to rest.

The first Tuesday after the first Monday would also prevent election day from falling on November 1st – All Saints Day in the Catholic religion.

Election for federal offices – president, vice president, Senate and Congress are only in even numbered years.  Presidential elections are held every four years in years divisible by four.

There are some people who oppose Tuesdays as election day because they say it decreases voter turnout because most people work on Tuesday.  They say election day should be a national holiday just like Memorial Day or Labor Day.

To get around that every state has some form of early balloting.

Only 3 states require photo id – Indiana, Georgia and Florida.

And two states allow convicted felons the right to vote from behind bars – Vermont and Maine.  In other states, felons can re-register once they’re released from prison.

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