by The Nyack Library
Have you ever wondered why we vote on the first Tuesday after a Monday in November?
In 1845, when congress set a uniform date for election day, the United States was primarily an agrarian society and voting occurred in county seats. Generally a full day of travel time was necessary to vote and, so as not to interfere with the Sabbath or market day (which was Wednesday in many towns), Tuesday was chosen. November was chosen since the harvest was usually over and it was before the winter weather was at its worst.
It’s not the first Tuesday in November, because Congress didn’t want election day to fall on November 1. All Saints Day is November 1 is and many companies did their books on the first of the month and they didn’t want any influence from a good or bad economic month to impact the election.
Since most people are no longer farmers, and it is much easier to get to your polling place, and given this country’s historically low voter turnout, there are groups such as Why Tuesday? pushing to move Election Day to the weekend (and this year early voting is helping expand the window). There has also been proposed legislation to establish a new federal holiday, Democracy Day, to be the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year.
Polls will be open in New York State from 6a to 9p on Tues Nov 3, 2020. If you don’t know where your polling place is, you can look it up here.