A Little Election Day History Lesson

Election Day

It’s Election Day in Ohio! Even though it is not a Presidential year, there are plenty of state issues and local races and levies seeking voter support. Do you ever wonder why elections are held on Tuesdays?

We did a little research and found a very practical explanation. The custom of weekday voting actually began in 1845 when Congress passed a law designating the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as Election Day. Prior to that, elections were scheduled by states and were required to be held within a 34-day period prior to the first Wednesday in December.

So why did Congress choose a Tuesday in November? To understand that answer, you have to put yourselves in the shoes of a nineteenth century American. This was an overwhelmingly agrarian society, with most citizens working as farmers who lived far from their polling places. In fact, most people traveled at least a day to vote, creating a need for a two day period to travel and vote.

Weekends were impractical because most spent Sundays in church and Wednesday was market day for farmers. With this in mind Tuesday was the first and most convenient day of the week to hold elections.

Why fall? Again, late fall was better for farmers as it doesn’t interfere with the harvest but allowed voting to be done before the arrival of harsh winter weather that would make travel difficult.

The America of today is much different than that of 1845. Buggies have been replaced by cars and planes that make travel a quick and comfortable process. Early voting and absentee ballots aid voters who can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. A 24-hour culture and advanced technology have made communication quicker than ever.

Since American pioneers had to travel great distances to vote, we hope you’ll be willing to stop by your local polling place and spend some time casting your ballot today. Remember, voting is your right and every vote is important!

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