Your nutty historical trivia for today

posted 22 July 2004

So, the US election is on Tuesday, November 2nd. With all the furore over postponing the elections in the event of a terrorist attack, I heard mention (on the BBC) that the rule for the date of the election is the first Tuesday of November. Then I read in the Economist, as a passing mention, that the rule is actually the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November -- an additional stipulation which excludes only the 1st of November. So why no election on the 1st of November? According to the Federal Election Commision (and they ought to know):

Why the first Tuesday after the first Monday? Lawmakers wanted to prevent election day from falling on the first of November for two reasons. November 1st is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics. In addition, most merchants were in the habit of doing their books from the preceding month on the 1st. Congress was apparently worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might influence the vote of the merchants.

So there you have it: big business and the religious right have been influencing politics in the US right from the very start.

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