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Facts About the History of Election Day

Have you ever wondered why Election Day is held on a Tuesday in November?

In 1845, Congress passed a federal law declaring the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as Election Day. Have you ever wondered why Election Day is held on a Tuesday in November? Have you heard of an Election Day cake?

Below we are sharing some interesting facts and histories about Election Day that you may not know.

  • You may be asking, why Tuesday and why November? In the late 1800s, most citizens worked as farmers. Many lived far from their polling place and often had to travel a day or two to vote. November was considered a good time for elections because the busy harvest season was coming to a close.
  • Before 1845, the states could hold presidential elections within a 34-day period before the first Wednesday in November. This system was problematic and had some flaws. Communications and transportation had evolved, which could influence votes in different time zones.
  • While George Washington was the first president elected into office, the first Election Day took place on November 7, 1848. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor won the election becoming the 12th president of the United States.
  • Becoming popular in the time of the American Revolution, Election Day Cake consisted of yeasted fruit. While not as popular today, you can find recipes online to make your own.

Here’s a timeline of voting rights in America:

February, 1870: The U.S. Congress passes and the states ratify the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting African-American men the right to vote.

1890: Wyoming becomes the first state to grant women the right to vote, followed by Colorado in 1893.

October 23, 1915: 25,000 women marched in New York City demanding the right to vote.

August, 1920: The Nineteenth Amendment was adopted, granting women from every state the right to vote. It was nicknamed the “Anthony” amendment in recognition of the lobbying efforts of suffragette Susan B. Anthony. The amendment was adopted just in time for the 1920 presidential election.

March 29, 1961: Ratification of the 23rd amendment to the Constitution gave residents of Washington, D.C., the right to vote in presidential elections.

August, 1965: President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act to outlaw states’ discriminatory voting practices, especially in regards to those targeting African-Americans in the South.

July, 1971: The 26th Amendment reduced the voting age in the United States from 21 to 18 years of age. The first 18-year-olds voted in the 1972 elections.

March, 1993: The “motor-voter” bill was signed by President Bill Clinton, allowing citizens to register to vote when applying for a driver’s license and ease voter registration.

Sources:

History

Almanac

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Americans at a polling booth

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