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For much of our history, America has been a predominantly agrarian society. Early lawmakers therefore took into account that November was perhaps the most convenient month for farmers and rural workers to be able to travel to the polls because for most the harvest was over. Spring was planting time and summer was taken up with working the fields and tending the crops. But in November the crop harvest was over and for the majority of the young nation, the weather was still mild enough to permit travel over unimproved roads.
So that Explains November – But Why Tuesday?
Since many residents of rural America would have to travel a significant distance to their county seat, in order to vote, Monday was not considered a reasonable voting day, because they would need to begin their travel on Sunday. This would have conflicted with Church services and Sunday worship. Early lawmakers did not wish to conflict with this important part of American life.
O.K. So that Explains Tuesday – But Why the First Tuesday after the First Monday?
Lawmakers wanted to prevent Election Day from falling on the first of November for two reasons. First, November 1st is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation for Roman Catholics. Second, and also very important, most merchants were in the habit of doing their books from the preceding month on the 1st of the following month. Early representatives did not want voting to conflict with these important accounting tasks. And, if Election Day was set for the First Tuesday in November, once every seven years Election Day would fall on November 1st. Apparently, our representatives were worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might prove an undue influence on the vote!
Thus the First Tuesday after the First Monday in November became America’s Election Day.
Source: The Federal Election Commission
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