When is Election Day 2018?

U.S. Election Day Dates, History, Trivia & Quotes

When is Election Day?

In the United States, Election Day 2018 is Tuesday, November 6. Which states have made Election Day a holiday? When were women granted the right to vote? Here’s a brief history of this day—plus, some common questions and answers.

When is U.S. Election Day 2018?

National Election Day is always the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

On this day, citizens cast ballots to select public officials—from local to national government.

  • Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four.
  • Elections to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are held every two years.
  • Local officials can be voted into office any year that is designated by the state.
Year Election Day
2018 Tuesday, November 6
2019 Tuesday, November 5
2020 Tuesday, November 3

Note: All states allow you to vote absentee, although 20 states require you to provide a reason, such as that you’ll be out of town or you’re disabled. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia also have early voting. 

Election Day History

To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box, my throne
!
–John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet (1807–92)    

On January 7, 1789, the electors were chosen for the first U.S. presidential election. (George Washington was elected president on February 4.)

By an act of Congress on January 23, 1845, the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November was designated Election Day for future presidential elections. Back then, we were more of an agricultural society and November was considered a good time for elections because the busy harvest season was coming to a close. Many country folks had to travel quite a long way to get to a polling station, so it made sense to hold elections on a Tuesday. This avoided religious holidays as well. 

Read more about Why We Vote on a Tuesday.

Before 1845, the states could hold presidential elections within a 34-day period and then send their electors to the Electoral College. However, this became problematic as communications and transportation evolved because states that voted earlier could influence states that voted later (not unlike earlier time zones versus later time zones today).

The first Election Day took place on November 7, 1848. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor won out over Democrat Lewis Cass and Free-Soil candidate (and former president) Martin Van Buren. Taylor’s running mate was Millard Fillmore, who became the nation’s 13th president on July 10, 1850, upon Taylor’s untimely death.

Read more about why elections are traditionally held in the fall in our article about the ancient Quarter-Days.

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Election Day Weather

What weather’s in store for you as you go to the polling stations?

Election Day Cake!

Did you know that there is a such thing as an Election Day Cake? Often yeasted fruit cakes, Election Day cakes started in the 1600s and were especially popular around the time of American independence.

Try making it this year with our Election Day Cake recipe

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Election Day Questions and Answers

Here are some Almanac reader questions—with answers from your editors!

Question: Is Election Day a federal holiday?
Answer: No, it is not. However, Election Day has been declared a civic holiday by many states including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and the territory of Puerto Rico. It is usually a day that the state legislature declares as a non-working day (when government offices and the court systems are closed).

Question: When were women given the right to vote in the United States?
Answer:  Women were given the right to vote on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Formerly known as Woman Suffrage Day, August 26 is now recognized as “Women’s Equality Day.” Ratification came in Tennessee, where suffragist (Anitia) Lili Pollitzer, age 25, persuaded Tennessee state legislator Harry T. Burn, age 24, to cast the deciding vote. “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow,” he said, “and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.” The country’s 26 million voting-age women were enfranchised by this change in the Constitution. Longtime suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt summed up her experiences in the battle this way: “Never in the history of politics has there been such a nefarious lobby as labored to block the ratification.” Upon ratification, Catt founded the League of Women Voters, an organization now dedicated to providing impartial, in-depth information about candidates, platforms, and ballot issues.

Question: Which U.S. president has received the greatest number of electoral votes?
Answer: Ronald Reagan, in the 1984 election, won a whopping 525 out of 538 available electoral votes.

Question: Which U.S. president has received the greatest number of popular votes?
Answer: That distinction goes to Barack Obama, who received 69.5 million votes in the 2008 election.

Question: Can you explain the electoral college?
Answer: The U.S. Constitution decrees that a “body of electors” will choose the president and vice president of the country. These electors are appointed by each state, through varying methods depending upon the state, as decided by each state’s legislature. The number of electoral votes allotted to each state depends on the number of Senators and Representatives to which each state is entitled; Congress has 100 Senators and 435 Representatives. Each state is allotted 1 electoral vote for each Senator (for a total of 2) and 1 electoral vote for each Representative. The number of Representatives each state has is based on its population. The District of Columbia is allotted 3 electoral votes. This yields a total of 538 electoral votes. Electors vote in their respective states in December. Most vote according to popular vote or to their pledge to their party (although in some states, they are not required to do so). In 48 states, the presidential candidate who receives a majority of the vote takes all of the state’s electoral votes. However, in Nebraska and Maine, the setup is different, and electoral votes can be split between candidates. Congress counts the electoral votes, now merely a formality, on January 6. The presidential candidate who receives a majority (270) of the 538 Electoral College votes wins the election.

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Question: What were the symbols for the Republicans and Democrats before they were an elephant and a donkey?
Answer: Although Thomas Nast, a caricaturist and illustrator for Harper’s Weekly, created and made famous our current symbols for the parties—the Democratic donkey in 1870 and the Republican elephant in 1874—there was an earlier symbol for Democrats. During the election of 1840, between the Democrats and the Whigs (the Republican party as we know it didn’t exist until 1854), the Whigs derided a Democratic candidate for Congress in Indiana, Joseph Chapman, with the slogan “Crow, Chapman, Crow!” However, Chapman crowed so successfully that he won the seat (though the Whigs were triumphant elsewhere). In Chapman’s honor, the Democrats adopted the rooster as their symbol.Question: How old do you you need to be to vote?

Question: Who is credited with saying, “Americans will go across an ocean to fight a war, but not across the street to vote”?
Answer: 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.” It is credited to William E. (‘Bill’) Vaughan, a 20th-century author and columnist.

The Right to Vote

  • 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 was the first state to grant women the right to vote, followed by Colorado in 1893. 
  • October 23, 1915: 25,000 women marched in NYC 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. See a full timeline of women’s suffrage.
  • 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 with 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.

Election Day Amusement

Here is an election-day palindrome for your amusement (4 words, 13 letters). 

Rise to vote, sir.

Source: 

The Old Farmer's Almanac

Reader Comments

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comment

Yahoo has a great election day page. So does Google. Go Vote!

Why is Election Day Not a Federal Holiday?

If Democracy is more important than Business, why not declare it a Federal Holiday so everyone will get the day off work to vote?

Absentee ballots

In my state asking for absentee ballots when you don't meet the requirements to submit an absentee ballot is election fraud.
There is a case in the press where a committee had people fill out an absentee ballot, so it would be easier for the citizens, but the committee people were there watching the people fill them out. Illegal and applying a little pressure on who to vote for.

My dear old trusted friends

My dear old trusted friends at Old Farmer's Almanac, I just want to say THANK YOU, that in this election year, especially, I am so hopeful for good to prevail, that you continue to choose to acknowledge Jesus by printing in every issue "calculated on a new and improved plan for the year of our Lord." You will never know what those words mean to me. God bless you.

I did not know there was an

I did not know there was an election cake! A fitting theme for this years' election would be to drop a big old deuce in the batter.

Thank you!

Just a thank you for posting the election days for the next 2 yrs as well as this yr. We signed up for absentee ballots to be sent to our home for ALL ELECTIONS. Did we receive one for the MI PRIMARY today? NO!!! So we have to make the trip anyway. Not great service from our city officials.

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

We need better candidates.

So like i am one of the

So like i am one of the born-Free's who can start registering to vote so cannot wait for the 10th of this month. I'm kinda excited been waiting for that day to come.

today is election day. yahoo!

today is election day. yahoo!

this day of election should

this day of election should show some sort of coin toss for the first monday to carry on the day after for elections to begin in the us.

I'm happy election day is

I'm happy election day is almost here yahoo !!! :0)