Election Day (United States)

Last updated

National Election Day
SF City Hall Election Day 2018.jpg
San Francisco City Hall illuminated in special red, white, and blue LED lighting at night on November 6, 2018 to commemorate Election Day all around the United States
TypeDay for the election of public officials in the United States
CelebrationsExercising civic duty, voting for elected officials, visiting polling precincts
DateThe Tuesday after the first Monday of November
2020 dateNovember 3 (Details)
2021 dateNovember 2 (Details)
2022 dateNovember 8 (Details)
2023 dateNovember 7 (Details)
Frequencybiennial (annual if including off-years)

In the United States, Election Day is the annual day set by law for the general elections of federal public officials. It is statutorily set by the Federal Government as "the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November" [1] equaling the Tuesday occurring within November 2 to November 8.

Contents

For federal offices (president, vice president, and United States Congress) and most gubernatorial offices (all except for Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia), Election Day occurs only in even-numbered years. Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four, in which electors for president and vice president are chosen according to the method determined by each state. Elections to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate are held every two years; all representatives are elected to serve two-year terms and are up for election every two years, while senators serve six-year terms, staggered so that one third of senators are elected in any given general election. General elections in which presidential candidates are not on the ballot are referred to as midterm elections. Terms for those elected begin in January the following year; the president and vice president are inaugurated (sworn in) on Inauguration Day, which is usually January 20.

Many state and local government offices are also elected on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost saving, although a handful of states hold elections for state offices (such as governor) during odd-numbered off years, or during other even-numbered midterm years, and may hold special elections for offices that have become vacant. Congress has mandated a uniform date for presidential (3 U.S.C.   § 1) and congressional (2 U.S.C.   § 1 and 2 U.S.C.   § 7) elections, though early voting is nonetheless authorized in many states, and states also have mail voting procedures.

The fact that Election Day falls on a Tuesday has become controversial in recent decades, as many people might be unable to vote because of their job. It is a public holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, as well as the territory of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. Some other states require that workers be permitted to take time off with pay. California requires that employees otherwise unable to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay, at the beginning or end of a shift. A federal holiday called Democracy Day, to coincide with Election Day, has been proposed, and some have proposed moving election day to the weekend. [2] Other movements in the IT and automotive industries encourage employers to voluntarily give their employees paid time off on Election Day.

History

By 1792, federal law permitted each state to choose Presidential electors any time within a 34-day period [3] before the first Wednesday in December. [4] A November election was convenient because the harvest would have been completed but the most severe winter weather, impeding transportation, would not yet have arrived, while the new election results also would roughly conform to a new year. Tuesday was chosen as Election Day so that voters could attend church on Sunday, travel to the polling location (usually in the county seat) on Monday, and vote before Wednesday, which was usually when farmers would sell their produce at the market. [5] Originally, states varied considerably in the method of choosing electors. Gradually, states converged on selection by some form of popular vote.[ citation needed ]

Development of the Morse electric telegraph, funded by Congress in 1843 and successfully tested in 1844, was a technological change that clearly augured an imminent future of instant communication nationwide. [6] To prevent information from one state from influencing Presidential electoral outcomes in another, Congress responded in 1845 by mandating a uniform national date for choosing Presidential electors. [1] Congress chose the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November to harmonize current electoral practice with the existing 34-day window in federal law, as the span between Election Day and the first Wednesday in December is always 29 days. [7] The effect is to constrain Election Day to the week between November 2 and 8 inclusive. Beginning with Presidential elections, states gradually brought most elections into conformity with this date.[ citation needed ]

The Twentieth Amendment, passed in 1933, changed the beginning and end date for the terms of the President, Vice President, Congressmen, and Senators. It did not affect the timing of Election Day.

Criticism

The majority of the electorate have to attend work on Tuesdays. This has led activists to promote alternatives to increase voter turnout. Alternative solutions include making Election Day a federal holiday or merging it with Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11, [8] [9] allowing voting over multiple days, mandating paid time off to vote, encouraging voters to vote early or vote by postal voting, and encouraging states to promote flexible voting.

Holiday and paid leave

U.S. states and territories that have declared Election Day a holiday US map of Election Day as holiday.svg
U.S. states and territories that have declared Election Day a holiday

Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and the territory of Puerto Rico have declared Election Day a civic holiday. Some other states require that workers be permitted to take time off from employment without loss of pay. California Elections Code Section 14000 and New York State Election Law [10] provide that employees without sufficient time to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay, at the beginning or end of a shift.

Some employers allow their employees to begin later or leave their workplace early on Election Day to allow them the opportunity to get to their precinct and vote. The United Auto Workers union has negotiated making Election Day a holiday for workers of U.S. domestic auto manufacturers.[ citation needed ] In January 2019, Sandusky, Ohio became the first city in the country to make Election Day a paid holiday for city employees by eliminating Columbus Day. [11]

On April 12, 2020, the Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam signed legislation that established Election Day as a holiday. [12] On June 16, 2020, the Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that established Election Day as a holiday. [13]

Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan proposed H.R. 63 – Democracy Day Act of 2005 [14] for the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year, to be a legal public holiday called Democracy Day. The purpose of the holiday was to increase voter turnout by giving citizens more time to vote, as well as to allow for the opening of more polling stations with more workers while raising awareness of the importance of voting and civic participation. The bill was reintroduced on November 12, 2014, and again on September 25, 2018, by independent Senator Bernie Sanders. It has never been enacted. [15] [16]

Early and postal voting

Most states allow early voting, letting voters cast their ballots before Election Day. Early voting periods vary from 4 to 50 days prior to Election Day. Unconditional early voting in person is allowed in 32 states and in D.C. [17] In the 2008 presidential election, 30% of votes were early votes. [18]

Also, all states have some kind of absentee ballot system. Unconditional absentee voting by mail is allowed in 27 states and D.C., and with an excuse in another 21 states. [17] Unconditional permanent absentee voting is allowed in 7 states and in D.C. [17] In Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Hawaii all major elections are by postal voting, with ballot papers sent to voters several weeks before Election Day. [19]

In 29 states, postal votes must be received on or before Election Day. [20] Other states have later deadlines, with California election law allowing mailed in ballots to arrive at the elections office up to 17 days after Election Day. [21] Some states, like Texas, give overseas and military voters extra time to mail in their ballots. [22]

Election Day on weekends

Louisiana, to date, is the only U.S. state to hold de-facto general elections on a Saturday, as the state's statewide elections are held on odd years and the state's unique primary method, a variation of the nonpartisan blanket primary, only requires a further runoff to be held on the federal Election Day (Tuesday) for those offices for which neither of the top two candidates receive an absolute majority of the vote.

See also

Related Research Articles

United States Electoral College Institution that officially elects both the President and Vice President of the United States

The United States Electoral College is the group of presidential electors required by the Constitution to form every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president. Each state appoints electors according to its legislature, equal in number to its congressional delegation. Federal office holders cannot be electors. Of the current 538 electors, an absolute majority of 270 or more electoral votes is required to elect the president and vice president. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority there, a contingent election is held by the United States House of Representatives to elect the president, and by the United States Senate to elect the vice president.

Elections in the United States Political elections for public offices in the United States

Elections in the United States are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the president, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages; as well as for special districts and school districts which may transcend county and municipal boundaries. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States as of 2012.

In electoral systems, voter registration is the requirement that a person otherwise eligible to vote must register on an electoral roll, which is usually a prerequisite for being entitled or permitted to vote. The rules governing registration vary between jurisdictions. In most jurisdictions, voting and registration is optional, while in others registration and voting are compulsory for citizens of voting age.

An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station to which the voter is normally allocated. Methods include voting at a different location, postal voting, proxy voting and online voting. Increasing the ease of access to absentee ballots is seen by many as one way to improve voter turnout through convenience voting, though some countries require that a valid reason, such as infirmity or travel, be given before a voter can participate in an absentee ballot. Early voting overlaps with absentee voting. Early voting includes votes cast before the official election day(s), by mail, online or in-person at voting centers which are open for the purpose. Some places call early in-person voting a form of "absentee" voting, since voters are absent from the polling place on election day.

Early voting, also called advance polling or pre-poll voting, is a convenience voting process by which voters in a public election can vote before a scheduled election day. Early voting can take place remotely, such as via postal voting, or in person, usually in designated early voting polling stations. The availability and time periods for early voting vary among jurisdictions and types of election. The goals of early voting are usually to increase voter participation and relieve congestion at polling stations on election day.

Postal voting voting, election, ballot papers, distributed to electors or returned by post, mail

Postal voting is voting in an election where ballot papers are distributed to electors by post, in contrast to electors voting in person at a polling station or electronically via an electronic voting system.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) is a voter assistance and education program established by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in accordance with federal law to ensure that members of the U.S. armed forces, their eligible family members, and U.S. citizens overseas are aware of their right to vote and have the tools to do so from the country where they are residing.

United States presidential election Type of election in the United States

The election of the president and the vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the fifty U.S. states or in Washington, D.C., cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the Electoral College. These electors then cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for president, the House of Representatives elects the president; likewise if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for vice president, then the Senate elects the vice president.

The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act is a proposed bill that would "Amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to prohibit a state from imposing additional conditions or requirements on the eligibility of an individual to cast a vote in federal elections by mail, except to the extent that it imposes a deadline for requesting the ballot and returning it to the appropriate state or local election official.". The bill would remove restrictions in 22 states that require specific reasons, such as doctors notes, for voting absentee by mail.

Ballot collecting is the gathering and submitting of completed absentee or mail-in voter ballots by third-party individuals, volunteers or workers, rather than submission by the voters themselves directly to ballot collection sites. It occurs in some areas of the U.S. where voting by mail is common, but some other states have laws restricting it. Proponents of ballot collection promote it as enfranchising those who live in remote areas or lack ready access to transportation, are incapacitated or in hospital or jail. Critics of ballot collection highlight the possibility of increasing the potential for vote misappropriation or fraud. These critics sometimes use the term ballot harvesting to refer to the practice.

2020 United States presidential election in Alaska 59th United States presidential election in Alaska

The 2020 United States presidential election in Alaska took place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States presidential election in which all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated. Alaska voters chose three electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote pitting incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and his running mate, incumbent Vice President Mike Pence, against Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, United States Senator Kamala Harris of California. The Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and Alliance Party nominees were also on the ballot, as was an Independent candidate. Write-in candidates were required to file a declaration of intent with the Alaska Division of Elections at least five days before the election, and their results were not individually counted.

2020 United States presidential election in Georgia 59th United States presidential election in Georgia

The 2020 United States presidential election in Georgia was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States elections in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. Georgia voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, incumbent President Donald Trump, and running mate Vice President Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his running mate California Senator Kamala Harris. Georgia has 16 electoral votes in the Electoral College.

2020 United States presidential election in Texas 59th United States presidential election in Texas

The 2020 United States presidential election in Texas was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States elections in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. Texan voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, incumbent President Donald Trump, and running mate Vice President Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his running mate California Senator Kamala Harris. The state of Texas has 38 electoral votes in the Electoral College.

2020 United States presidential election in New York 59th United States presidential election in New York

The 2020 United States presidential election in New York was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States presidential election in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. New York voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, incumbent President Donald Trump, and running mate Vice President Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his running mate California Senator Kamala Harris. New York has 29 electoral votes in the Electoral College. Trump announced that Florida would be his home state for this election, rather than New York as it had been previously. This was the first presidential election in New York to allow no-excuse absentee voting.

2020 United States presidential election in Wisconsin 59th United States presidential election in Wisconsin

The 2020 United States presidential election in Wisconsin was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States elections in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. Wisconsin voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee, incumbent President Donald Trump, and running mate Vice President Mike Pence against Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his running mate California Senator Kamala Harris. Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes in the Electoral College.

2020 Wisconsin elections 2020 Wisconsin elections for U.S. President, U.S. House, State Supreme Court, State Legislature, and others.

Two major elections were held in the U.S. state of Wisconsin in 2020. The larger was the general and presidential election, held on November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States elections in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. All of the state's eight seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election, as well as sixteen seats in the Wisconsin Senate and all 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly. Voters also chose ten electors to represent them in the Electoral College, which then participate in selecting the president of the United States. A primary election for these offices was held on August 11, 2020.

Postal voting in the United States Overview of postal voting in the United States of America

Postal voting in the United States, also referred to as mail-in voting or vote by mail, is a form of absentee ballot in the United States, in which a ballot is mailed to the home of a registered voter, who fills it out and returns it by postal mail or drops it off in-person into a secure drop box or at a voting center. Postal voting reduces staff requirements at polling centers during an election. All-mail elections can save money, while a mix of voting options can cost more. In some states, ballots may be sent by the Postal Service without prepayment of postage. Vote by mail is available in both red and blue states.

The Transition Integrity Project (TIP) was a series of June 2020 political scenario exercises in the United States, involving over 100 current and former senior government and campaign leaders, academics, journalists, polling experts and former federal and state government officials. The exercises examined potential disruptions to the 2020 presidential election and transition. TIP is not an organization, but rather a short-term project run under the auspices of the organization Protect Democracy.

Postal voting in the 2020 United States elections Overview of postal voting in the 2020 United States elections

Postal voting played an important role in the 2020 United States elections, with many voters reluctant to vote in person during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The election was won by Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate. The Republican candidate Donald Trump made numerous claims of widespread fraud arising from postal voting, despite substantial evidence to the contrary.

The following is a timeline of major events before, during, and after the 2020 United States presidential election, the 59th quadrennial United States presidential election, from November 2020 to January 2021. For prior events, see Timeline of the 2020 United States presidential election (2017–2019) and Timeline of the 2020 United States presidential election.

References

  1. 1 2 Statutes at Large, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 721.
  2. Should Elections Be Held On Weekends? from NPR
  3. Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 2nd Congress, 1st Session, p. 278.
  4. Statutes at Large, 2nd Congress, 1st Session, p. 239.
  5. Cunningham, John M. "Why Are U.S. Elections Held on Tuesdays?". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  6. William C. Kimberling, The Electoral College, Federal Election Commission, 1992, pp. 6–7
  7. Congressional Globe, House of Representatives, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 14–15.
  8. Sutter, John D. (November 12, 2012). "Election Day should be a federal holiday". CNN. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  9. "Policy Proposals" . Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  10. "New York State Election Law, § 3–110" (PDF). Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  11. "Sandusky's gov't eliminates Columbus Day as holiday", Sandusky Register, January 30, 2019, retrieved September 26, 2019
  12. LeBlanc, Paul (April 12, 2020). "Virginia governor makes Election Day a holiday and expands early voting". CNN.
  13. Roberts, Jim (June 19, 2020). "Illinois governor expands vote by mail, makes election day a state holiday" . Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  14. "H.R.63 – Democracy Day Act of 2005". Congress.gov. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  15. Civic Impulse. (2015). S. 2918 — 113th Congress: Democracy Day Act of 2014. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s2918
  16. "S. 3498 (115th): Democracy Day Act of 2018". GovTrack. Civic Impulse. Retrieved July 7, 2019.
  17. 1 2 3 "Absentee and Early Voting". National Conference of State Legislatures . Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  18. Michael McDonald (May 1, 2010). "(Nearly) Final 2008 Early Voting Statistics". Department of Public and International Affairs, George Mason University. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  19. Absentee and Early Voting. National Conference of State Legislatures.
  20. "Voting By Mail? Here Are the Deadlines in Every U.S. State". Time. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  21. "Vote By Mail :: California Secretary of State". www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  22. "VoteTexas.gov » Military & Overseas Voters". www.votetexas.gov. Retrieved October 29, 2020.