MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Why Are Elections On Tuesdays?

Ever wondered why we, as Americans, always seem to vote on Tuesdays? Well, there are reasons why that is. Farming reasons.


Back in 1788, states would determine their own voting dates. But, it was a logistical nightmare: a national patchwork quilt of elections across the country, on different dates & at different times, all to choose Presidential electors who would ultimately cast their votes on the 1st Wednesday in December (the date set forth in the Constitution). So, in 1792, a law was passed that required state elections to be held within a 34-day window before the 1st Wednesday in December. Most elections then started taking place in November.


Ours was a mostly agricultural society back then. So, having elections in November meant that crops had already been harvested & winter hadn’t taken hold yet. It the perfect time to vote for our young, agrarian country.


Now, back in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, the super-slow pace of presidential elections wasn’t that big of an issue: communication was understandably slow everywhere, with results taking weeks to tally & announce anyway. But, once the railroad & the telegraph came into being, Congress figured that a standardized date needed to be established. Monday was a no-go, since that would require folks to travel to the polls by horse & buggy on the Sunday Sabbath. Wednesday wasn’t good, either, because that was market day & farmers wouldn’t be able to make it to the polls since that’s when they’d be buying & selling their wares. Tuesday, it seemed, was the day that most Americans could vote in federal elections. So, in 1845, Congress passed a law mandating that presidential elections be held on the Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November.


And, guess what…that’s next Tuesday! A week from tomorrow! You’ve got the opportunity to make a difference, so get out & vote!


Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].