Why is Election Day on a Tuesday in November?

Oct 22, 2020, 8:38 AM | Updated: 10:05 am
Election day...
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2020 file photo, Alexandria, Va., residents wait in a socially-distanced line to cast their ballots for the November presidential election on first day of early voting in Virginia, at the Voter Registration Office in Alexandria, Va. A severed fiber optic cable shut down Virginia's online voter registration system Oct. 13 the last day to register before the November general election. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via AP, File)
(John McDonnell/The Washington Post via AP, File)

Why can’t American voters chose a warm day in June to vote? Why is it always in November when it can be downright chilly or even snowy?

How Election Day was set

Election Day was established by Congress back in 1845; it’s always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November:

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed in each State on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed.”

So even in an emergency — like a pandemic — neither the president nor his staff can postpone, delay or reschedule the election,  according to a 2004 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.


Back in May, White House senior adviser (and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law) Jared Kushner suggested to TIME magazine that it’s “too far in the future to tell” whether the election will take place on Nov. 3 as scheduled, adding “it is not my decision to make,” according to CNN.

While federal law sets the day of the election, states regulate and conduct the elections themselves.

Voting in a pandemic

During the previous pandemic in the United States, only about 40 percent of eligible U.S. voters cast their ballots in a midterm election on Nov. 5, 1918, compared with 50 percent in the previous midterm.

Republicans won control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 1908, marking a major defeat for President Woodrow Wilson, his foreign-policy agenda and his fellow Democrats trying to hold on to control of Congress during World War I.

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Why is Election Day on a Tuesday in November?