Election Day is observed on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, taking place on November 8 this year. This is the day we cast ballots to select public officials — from local to the national government. Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four, while the elections to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are held every two years. Other state and local government elections can be held in any year that is designated by the state.
HISTORY OF ELECTION DAY
Elections are the one thing that separates a democracy from a dictatorship, giving people the right to control their leaders and oust them without the need for a revolution. This day is a great way to show our appreciation for these rights that have been granted to us through the notion of democracy.
The electors were chosen for the first U.S. presidential election on January 7, 1789. The Federal law permitted each state to choose Presidential electors any time within 34 days and send their electors to the Electoral College. As communications and transportation evolved, this became a problem since the states that voted earlier could influence states that voted later. To prevent this, Congress responded by mandating a uniform national date for choosing the electors.
The first Tuesday following the first Monday was chosen as Election Day for future presidents on January 23, 1845. This time was deemed suitable for elections as the harvest would have been over. Tuesday was convenient because voters could attend church on a Sunday and travel to their polling stations on Monday. This allowed the farmers to vote before Wednesday, which was usually when farmers would sell their produce at the market.
On November 7, 1848, the first Election Day took place. Whig Party candidate, Zachary Taylor, won out over Free-Soil candidate and former president, Martin Van Buren, and Democrat candidate, Lewis Cass. Millard Fillmore, who was Taylor’s running mate, became the nation’s 13th president on July 10, 1850, upon Taylor’s untimely death.
ELECTION DAY TIMELINE
Women Get to Vote
Wyoming legislature passes a law allowing women to vote, Colorado follows in 1893.
African-American Men’s Right to Vote
In February 1870, the 15th Amendment grants African-American men the right to vote.
The 19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution grants women from every state the right to vote.
Voting Age Reduced
The 26th Amendment reduces the voting age in the United States from 21 to 18 years.
ELECTION DAY FAQS
Which U.S. president has received the most electoral votes?
In the 1984 election, Ronald Reagan won 525 out of 538 available electoral votes.
What are the requirements to be president?
Article II of the U.S. The Constitution states that the president must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
Who said, “Americans will go across an ocean to fight a war, but not across the street to vote”?
This line is credited to a 20th-century author and columnist William E. Vaughan. The full quote is “A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.”
HOW TO OBSERVE ELECTION DAY
- Go out and voteEvery vote matters. We need to vote for the change we want. We cannot expect things to get better unless we make an effort, and that effort starts with a simple vote. So make sure you cast your vote this Election Day.
- Get others to joinEncourage others to vote as well. Start with your friends, families, or colleagues, explaining to them the importance of voting and why every vote matters.
- Take people to the pollsProvide rides to polls. This is a great way to ensure that people vote. Before Election Day, Inform people that you will be providing rides to the polls. Get them on board and take them to the polling stations.
5 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT ELECTION
- Youngest presidentJohn F. Kennedy was 43 when he was elected to office.
- Votes counted by raising handsVotes were often counted by raising hands or speaking out loud in the 1700s and early 1800.
- The first woman to run for officeVictoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for president in 1872.
- The dead opponentIn 1872, President Grant ran against a dead opponent, Horace Greeley, who died during the election process.
- Secret ballots were introducedSecret ballots started becoming common in the 1890s election.
WHY ELECTION DAY IS IMPORTANT
- It’s important for democracyElection is an integral part of any democracy. Without the election process, a democracy cannot function. As citizens, we get the chance to appoint people who will steer affairs and make decisions on our behalf — decisions that would impact our lives and destinies.
- Voting is our dutyWe enjoy plenty of rights in a democracy. These rights are for our protection and wellbeing. But they go together with duties. To ensure the protection of our rights, we need to perform certain duties, one of which is voting.
- To ensure a better futureWe should constantly strive for perfection. We have faced many issues in the past as a society, and the only way we were able to fix them was when we unanimously demanded change. Voting is the best way to demand that change. So vote today to ensure a better future.
ELECTION DAY DATES