‘Til Tuesday – Why Do We Vote on Tuesday?

Why do we vote on Tuesday? Why do we do foreclosures and sheriff’s sales on Tuesday? Why do we hold grand jury on Tuesday?

gun polling placeEvery tradition starts somewhere and usually time has long forgotten why. So it goes somewhat with the first American elections. From 1788 to 1845, states decided their own voting dates. Those elections were held to pick the “electors”, known now as the Electoral College. That “election” was the first Wednesday in December. Why Wednesday? No one knows for sure. Probably because it insured the arrival of the electors in Washington DC if they left their homes on Monday. No one travelled on Sunday, it being the Sabbath Sunday.

Congress got into the mix in 1845 and decreed that federal elections would happen on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Monday was out, due to travel issues. Wednesday was out as that was market day for farmers. So it was Tuesday. Why not Thursday? Apparently Thursday was a travel day for getting back home in time to celebrate the three days of worship. The states followed suit generally and picked Tuesday for their elections as well. Some states picked more obscure dates, like Texas which holds its primary on the second Saturday in May, or Louisiana which holds its runoff election on the first Saturday in December.

Why in November? The country was agrarian so the November election gave the farmers time to have the crops come in and have some money in their pocket for the county fair and to pay politicians. Just kidding. Kind of.

Why are foreclosures and sheriff sales held on Tuesday? Probably the same reasons as elections. I know real estate attorneys like to have Monday to make sure their ducks are all in a row before foreclosure day. The Legislature has set Tuesday as foreclosure day and so it is. We’ve always done it that way.

Now grand jury is usually held on Tuesday in Houston County, but why? Just because. There is no reason why it has to be on Tuesday. There is no law one way or the other. If you held it on Monday, it’d interfere with regular jury selection, so that wouldn’t be good. If you held it on Friday, you’d run into the “three day weekend” so prevalent these days. But it could be held on Wednesday or Thursday just as easily, and on occasion, it has been on those days. Every county has a term of court and a time that the grand jury is seated, but the days that they actually hear cases is determined by the district attorney working in concert with the grand jury.

There aren’t many great rock’n’roll songs about Tuesday, but the band ‘Til Tuesday had the super hit “Voices Carry.” The lead singer was Aimee Mann. She had some solo hits as well. ‘Til Tuesday, a Boston band, got their name because in Boston there were limited weekend play slots and the booking agents adopted a policy of only taking calls for the available slots on Tuesday. This, a band had to wait ‘Til Tuesday to know if they were playing that weekend.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He focuses on personal injury cases and corporate litigation. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles about the law that you’d like to see.

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