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. 8.
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.
On Jan. 6, 2021, a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results was disrupted when a mob stormed the Capitol, seeking to prevent the counting of electoral votes to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Several people died during the event, and many others were injured. Once the rioters were ejected, Congress reconvened and voted to confirm Biden’s win early the following morning. Candidates who back former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen will appear on ballots in nearly every state this year.
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, as in 2022, 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 January 20 and is a federal holiday.
Many state and local offices are also elected on Election Day.
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.
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 makes 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.
A federal holiday, called Democracy Day, to coincide with Election Day, has been proposed, 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.