Election Day is the day for general elections of public officials in the U.S. It is set by statute as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November.” This year, Election Day is Nov. 7.
For federal offices such as president, vice president and members of Congress, and for most governors, Election Day occurs in even-numbered years. Presidential elections are held every four years, during which electors for president and vice president are chosen according to methods determined by each state.
Elections to the House and the Senate are held every two years. All representatives serving two-year terms while senators hold office for six years. One third of the Senate is elected in any general election.
General elections in which presidential candidates are not on the ballot are known as ”midterm elections.” Terms for those elected begin in January of the following year. The president and vice president are sworn in on Inauguration Day, which is usually Jan. 20 and is a federal holiday.
Many state and local offices are also elected on Election Day. Several states including Ohio had issues on the ballot related to abortion and other issues that may factor in next year’s presidential election.
The fact that Election Day falls on a Tuesday has become controversial in recent years as many people might be unable to vote because of their job. Congress mandated a uniform date for presidential and congressional elections, though early and mail-in voting are authorized in many states, extending the voting period.
On Tuesday, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced legislation to make Election Day a federally recognized holiday, which would give civil servants the day off. Similar legislation has been proposed in both chambers in past years, though no such bill has passed.
Which states make Election Day a holiday?
More than a third of states have some form of Election Day holiday.
Indiana, West Virginia and Wisconsin have the broadest Election Day holiday policies, while Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia classify general elections as holidays. Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan and New Hampshire provide time off in biennial, even-year elections, like this one, while Illinois approved a temporary law that made Election Day 2022 a legal holiday. The measure expires in 2023.
California mandates that employees otherwise unable to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay on Election Day, at the beginning or end of a shift. Pennsylvania classifies the third Tuesday in February (primary election day) and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (general election day) as legal half-holidays. General elections for president are considered a state holiday in Kentucky.
Though election day is not a federal holiday, “Democracy Day,” to coincide with Election Day, has been proposed as a federal holiday, and some have suggested moving election day to the weekend to make voting easier. Bills to enshrine these ideas into law have made little headway in Congress. Some employers voluntarily give employees paid time off on Election Day.
Can federal employees take time off to vote?
Federal workers may take up to four hours of administrative leave to vote in federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial elections. They may also use up to four hours of administrative leave per year to serve as non-partisan poll workers or observers.
There are 12 federal holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Inauguration Day, George Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Election Day is not a federal holiday.