Why Does the United States Hold Elections on Tuesdays?


In 1845, the United States Congress selected the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as the universal election day for federal elections; the motivations behind this choice are related to technological limitations on elections that made immediate vote tallying and communication difficult. Having election days on Tuesdays also avoids potential interference in voting ability for religious people who recognize a sabbath day on which they may be restricted from traveling to a polling location or performing work-like duties such as voting.

Tuesday was also chosen over weekdays such as Wednesday, which was a market day in most places at the time the rule was made, because many American citizens in the late 1800s would have to travel by horse or wagon over the course of an entire day in order to reach their polling destination.

As of 1792, the United States was still a young nation and was still developing policies for events like elections. It was in this year that the Congress passed a law that allowed states to conduct presidential elections on any day within 34 days of the first Wednesday in December which was, at that time, the day upon which the members of the Electoral College met to cast votes. Due to concerns over ballot tampering and election results from one state impacting others, the uniform date of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was selected.