The US presidential election is always held on a Tuesday, and it’s been that way for well over a century now.
But what’s the story behind voting on a Tuesday?
Here’s what you need to know.
For starters, it’s in the US constitution
To be more specific, the presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
It’s the day in which US states vote to appoint presidential electors for the electoral college.
And this year, it falls on November 3 (local time).
This allocated day was amended in the Constitution back in 1845 by Congress.
Why Tuesday and why November?
At the time, although large cities and populations were expanding across the US, it was still largely an agrarian society.
And back then, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were considered days of worship.
And Wednesdays were market days — only leaving Monday and Tuesday to vote.
However, farmers would usually need at least a day to travel into large towns to cast their ballot.
Therefore, Tuesday proved to be the most convenient day.
And the month of November was chosen because it’s the most convenient month for farmers in terms of planting and harvesting seasons in the US.
There was also the consideration of All Saints Day — the Catholic holiday which is celebrated on November 1.
So by holding elections on the Tuesday after the first Monday, it prevented elections from falling on All Saints Day.
And things have stayed that way ever since, despite the weekday becoming a usual business day in our modern society.
States used to choose when they would hold election day
Another reason Congress chose the national election day is that prior to 1845, it was to be up to individual states to choose when they’d like to hold it in their respective jurisdictions.
And the window of when they could hold elections lasted for over a month.
As the Congressional Research Service explains: “In 1792, the 2nd Congress decided presidential electors would vote on the first Wednesday in December, and electors must be chosen in the 34 days leading up to that date.”
“More than half of the states in the early 1800s held presidential elections in early November.”
But this sluggish process held within a 34-day period proved to be quite problematic.
It meant knowledge of voting results in the early states could affect voter turnouts, and could also give late voters the power to sway the entire outcome of the election.
Has the US considered changing it?
There’s definitely been a demand to change the day.
Why Tuesday? is an organization that has been raising awareness about the issue since it was founded in 2005.
They’re in favour of The Weekend Voting Act which has been introduced to Congress several times now without being passed.
The bill aims: “To change the date for regularly scheduled general elections for Federal office to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November in every even-numbered year.”
There’s also a demand to make election day a federal holiday.
A Pew Research Centre poll in 2018 found bipartisan majority support for the idea.
It stated: “Seventy-one per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and 59 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaners said they would support making election day a national holiday.”
Of course, early voting and mail ballots are an option but the rules vary from state to state.
And there’s been a few changes to early voting this year in individual states because of COVID-19.
There are also some states which do not offer pre-election day in-person voting options.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, those states currently are: Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire and South Carolina.