In the United States, the Election Day is the day set
by law for the election of public officials.
For federal offices (United States
Congress and President and Vice President), it occurs on the Tuesday after the
first Monday of November in even-numbered years; the earliest possible date
is November 2 and the latest November 8.
Presidential elections are held every four years (Electors
for President and Vice President are also chosen according to the method determined
by each state), while elections to the United States House of Representatives
and the United States Senate are held every two years. (All Representatives
serve two-year terms and are up for election every two years, while Senators
serve six-year terms, staggered so that one-third of Senators are elected in
any given general election).
|General elections in which presidential candidates are
not on the ballot are referred to as midterm elections. Terms for those elected
begin in January the following year; the President and Vice President are inaugurated
("sworn in") on Inauguration Day, usually January 20.
Many state and local government offices are also elected
on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost saving, although a handful
of states hold elections for state offices (such as governor) during odd-numbered
The Congress has mandated a uniform date for presidential
(3 U.S.C. § 1) and congressional (2 U.S.C. § 1 and 2 U.S.C. § 7)
elections, though early voting is nonetheless authorized in many states. In Oregon,
where all elections are vote-by-mail, all ballots must be received by a set time
on Election Day, as is common with absentee ballots in most states (except overseas
military ballots which receive more time by federal law).
In the state of Washington, where most counties are vote-by-mail
(and in the others most votes are cast by mail as permanent absentee ballots),
ballots need only be postmarked by Election Day.
The Election Day is a civic holiday in some states, including
Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Some other states require laws that workers be permitted to take time off from
employment without loss in pay.
California Elections Code Section 14000 provides that employees
otherwise unable to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay, at the beginning
or end of a shift. Democratic Representative John Conyers of Michigan recently
introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would make Election Day
a national holiday called Democracy Day.