History of Election Day: Why we Vote on a Tuesday in November

Bill Petro
4 min readNov 7, 2022

Why does the U.S. vote on a Tuesday in November?

Historically, the United States was an agrarian society where much of the calendar revolved around farming. In 1840, Congress set voting day on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

This time provided a convenient month for farmers, who needed to travel perhaps overnight to the county seat’s polling places following the Autumn harvest season. The weather would not yet have turned bad enough to make rural roads impassable.

Election Day Travel

Rural Americans would begin their trip on Monday rather than Sunday, lest their travel interferes with Sunday worship services. It had to be on a Tuesday following the first Monday to not fall on November 1st, a holiday known as All Saints’ Day. Additionally, the first day of the month was when accounting books were brought up to date. While Election Day is a federal holiday, it is observed only by government holidays in the capital of Washington, D.C., and those counties bordering it in Virginia and Maryland.

Election Day Restrictions

Voting in America was initially limited to citizens who were free, white, male, and landowners.

  • In 1856, Congress removed…



Bill Petro

Writer, historian, technologist. Former Silicon Valley tech exec. Author of fascinating articles on history, tech, pop culture, & travel. https://billpetro.com