Election Day not always on Tuesday

Election Day has not always been held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

"November was a good time to hold elections because in most states it came after the fall harvest but before winter storms set in. This allowed for higher voter participation," history department chairman Tim Hall said in an e-mail to Central Michigan Life.

Before it was mandated by Congress in 1845, Hall said, states could set their own election days.

The reason it was changed is because with so many different election days it was easier to manipulate the votes, ultimately changing the election, Hall said.

Elections were also conducted by verbally stating for whom the citizen would vote.

"For the first half of the nineteenth century, most states continued the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century practice of 'oral ballots' where each voter stated his choice verbally," Hall said.

The last state to switch to the secret ballot was Kentucky in 1891, Hall said.

Still no matter what day it falls on, the election is an important event on the calendar - so important that Election Day is a legal holiday in nine states, including New York and Hawaii, but not Michigan.

"My government is limited by the power of the people. Our leaders and representatives are the creatures of the people, not the other way around," Hall said.

Two politically active students at Central Michigan University agree with Hall.

"You do a lot of work on Election Day, but it is so exciting at the same time, especially when the polls close and you are watching the news hoping that all the work you did paid off in a big way," said Karl Bouwhuis, President of College Democrats and Lowell senior.

Bret Krabill, a member of College Republicans and Mount Pleasant senior, said he looks forward to when the elections get down to the final minute.

"I am sure that once the day gets closer, again I will feel that last-minute crunch time, the final sprint to get done everything I can," Krabill said.



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