Q. 27: In What Month Do We Vote for President?

Voting stickers
The United States Presidential election is held every four years.

To pass the US citizenship test, you will have to answer 10 of a possible 100 questions. The following question is from the USCIS test.

In what month do we vote for President?

Answer:

November.

The following is a full explanation of the USCIS question:

At What Time of Year Do We Vote for President?

The short answer is November. But, this is a simple answer for what is a more complex process, from nominating a presidential candidate to the winner entering the White House for their four-year term. 

Every four years, the election on a Tuesday in November sees the country decide between the final nominees to determine the President-Elect. There follows a transitional period until January 20th, when they are sworn into office.

Why Is the Presidential Vote on a Tuesday in November?

The idea to vote on a Tuesday in November sounds illogical at times in modern-day America. November is cold and dark by 8 pm while people are still trying to vote, and there is a risk of bad weather. There are also countless voters working or studying during the majority of that day when they would be freer to vote on a weekend. Yet, the day and month have never changed.

The reason all comes down to a focus on the needs of farmers and other land workers back when the process started. Farmers need to be able to travel to their closest polling location at a time that suits their schedule. 

They had church on Sunday and market on Wednesday, so they traveled on a Monday to vote on a Tuesday. Furthermore, November was a less busy period when they weren’t dealing with planting and harvesting crops as they would in spring and fall.

Is This November Election Day a Federal Holiday?

There are varying provisions between the states on taking time off for a presidential election. Some states provide legal holidays for all kinds of general and state elections, while others only do so for the main November election.

There are calls for the day to be a federal holiday via the Freedom to Vote Act. Supporters say it would make it easier for workers to attend the vote and potentially increase voter numbers. Critics argue that people would just use the day to do other things, negatively affecting voter turnout.

When Is the Election Winner Announced?

The votes for the presidential elections are counted after the polls close on that day. It can take a long time for all the polls to close across the country because of the difference in time zones.

For example, a registered voter in California could cast their ballot at a local station long after the polls in Florida have closed.

There are also cases where election officials overseeing stations will allow votes after the cut-off if that voter was in the queue at the polling place in time.

Next, we have the exit polls and predicted winners before a state is finally ready to declare.

Neither party can claim victory until they reach the majority of Electoral College votes across all states. That target is 270 out of 538.

It’s possible there could be a winner long before some states have finished counting if there is a landslide. But, a close race could lead to recounts where a winner isn’t declared for days.

When Does the Winner Become President?

At this point in the process, we have what is known as a President-Elect. The winning candidate is assured four years in the White House – barring anything like resignation, impeachment, or death in office.

However, the current president must see out their term and hand over power. There is a figurative passing of the torch as the President-Elect plans for life in the Oval Office.

When Is the Inauguration?

The inauguration doesn’t take place until the following January – on the 20th. This is when the winning candidate takes the oath of office, as does the Vice President that was their running mate during the campaign. There is a grand ceremony in the capital with an address to the public and the official moment of a change in power.

More precisely, the transfer of power is stated as occurring at noon, which means even if they are sworn in at 11:58, there are two minutes where it isn’t completely official. This also means that the President-Elect can be president at noon on a Sunday but take office publicly a day later.

Why Did the Inauguration Date Change?

It is also interesting to note that January 20th wasn’t the original date of the inauguration. The original date was the 4th of March, which sounds like a better time of year for an outdoor celebration, even if President William Henry Harrison still caught pneumonia at his.

Critics felt that this left an overly long transition period between the election and transfer of power. A major problem here was that there were “Lame Duck” Congress sessions with members that hadn’t been re-elected.

So, a motion was presented in the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and ratified in 1933. Franklin Roosevelt was the first to be inaugurated on this new date.

How Many Years Are There Between November Elections?

Every presidential term lasts for four years, and then we return to the polls and vote again. Anyone that has been president for a single term can bid for a second, and not necessarily for consecutive terms. Although, there can’t be any more than two. This was brought in via the 22nd Amendment after Franklin Roosevelt was elected for four terms.

At the time of writing, the last presidential election was held in 2020, with President Biden taking office in January of 2021. The country will vote again on a Tuesday in November 2024 where President Trump could run again, or we will see fresh nominations from the Democrats and Republicans.

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