Election day

Remind your parents how important it is to vote. November 3rd, 2020 is the day for the citizens (18 + if registered) of the United States to be heard. Cast your ballots if you haven’t already on who you think is the best candidate to lead our country for the next 4 years.

Election Day is the annual day set by law for the general elections of federal public officials. It is statutorily set as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” equalling “the first Tuesday after November 1”. The earliest possible date is November 2, and the latest possible date is November 8.

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 Representativesand 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 on 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.

Election Day is a public holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, the territory of Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Some other states require that workers be permitted to take time off with pay. California Elections Code section 14000 provides 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, Democracy Day, to coincide with Election Day has been proposed. Other movements in the IT and automotive industries encourage employers to voluntarily give their employees paid time off on Election Day.

History of Election Day

By 1792, federal law permitted each state to choose Presidential electors any time within a 34-day period before the first Wednesday in December. 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. The reason that Tuesday was chosen was so that voters could attend church on Sunday, travel to the polling location on Monday, and vote before Wednesday, which was usually when farmers would sell their produce at the market. Originally, states varied considerably in the method of choosing electors. Gradually, states converged on selection by some form of popular vote. 

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. 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. 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. The effect is to constrain Election Day to the week between November 2 and November 8 inclusive. Beginning with Presidential elections, gradually all states brought nearly all elections into conformity with this date.

Now besides reminding your parents and people around you to vote as you legally can not, does not mean your voice or thoughts don’t count. Here are some ideas you can do:

  • Speak with your electives
  • Go vote with your parents, you can’t vote as a child but its just as important for you to see how it is done
  • Raise money for a topic you care about. Have a bake sale outside the voting location. Show that just because you are young, doesn’t mean you can’t have your own thoughts

Here are some more resources about Voting and Election Day

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