General Election Day. Elections for all federal elected officials are held on
the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years (November 5, 2002 for the next mid-term congressional elections, and November 2, 2004 for the next presidential election); presidential elections are held in every year
divisible by four. Congress selected this day in 1845 (5 Stat. 721); previously,
states held elections on different days between September and November, a
practice that sometimes led to multiple voting across state lines, and other
fraudulent practices. By tradition, November was chosen because the harvest was
in, and farmers were able to take the time needed to vote. Tuesday was selected
because it gave a full day's travel between Sunday, which was widely observed as
a strict day of rest, and election day. 7 Travel was also easier throughout the
north during November, before winter had set in.
January 17, 2001 CRS Report for Congress
"The Electoral College: How it Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections"
Thomas H. Neale
Analyst, American National Government Government and Finance Division