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Monday, November 06, 2006

At the Polls

It’s the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November again and at the 10,000 precinct polling places scattered across the country, voters will be lining up to cast their ballots from sunup to sundown.

For many who work, Election Day can be an inconvenience. There are those who suggest it should be moved to a weekend. But back in 1845 when Congress decided there should be a uniform day for elections, the first Tuesday in November was quite convenient for the farmers in a rural society. The hard work of the harvest was done, but the weather was still mild enough in most areas to travel the dirt roads common at the time.

Tuesdays were chosen because it often took a day’s travel to get to the county seat where elections took place, and Sundays were reserved for church. Congress also ensured that a Tuesday Election Day would never fall on November 1 -– All Souls Day and a Catholic holy day –- by insisting that it always occur after the first Monday in November. (Why We Vote When We Do)

This year all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election; as are 33 of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate and 36 of the 50 governors. For more on elections, check the Politics and Election section of the library’s Web site.

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