Nod to Colder Climate

So, what IS the connection (you ask)?

Both dates were chosen with farmers and an agrarian economy in mind, literally two centuries ago.**

Here’s the explanation:

When Congress in 1845 set Election Day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, however, lawmakers were thinking of weather rather than [Halloween] witches. The idea was that crop-harvesting would be finished by early November and winter wouldn’t have yet arrived.

–Kathleen Parker, “The country doesn’t need another Trump victory. But it might deserve it”; The Washington Post (10/23/2020).

Flush Farmers & Presidential Elections

Once upon a time, Minnesota had to make a similar decision: when to collect property taxes from its farmer-citizens.

Assuming you were going pick two dates a year (to spread out the burden), and wanted to maximize revenues, when would you do it?

When the farmers were (financially) flushest.

When’s that?

In the Spring, before they’d planted; and in the Fall, after they’d harvested.


Minnesota’s long-established property tax deadlines are May 15 and October 15 (note: the May 15 payment covers the first half of the year; the October 15 payment the second half).

When Early November = Mid-October

If the Presidential election is also timed to be “post-harvest and pre-winter,” why does it always fall in early November instead of mid-October?

Answer: because the rest of the U.S. is warmer than Minnesota.

Voila! (again): early November** nationally equals mid-October in Minnesota . . .

*Not this year: Winter in the Twin Cities officially arrived last Tuesday, when 8″ of snow fell. It’s been frigid ever since.

**A very strong argument for changing the U.S. presidential election day to a more felicitous time of year for today’s decidedly non-agrarian economy.

My suggestion: the first weekend in May, every fourth year.

The weekend, so people (except Realtors) don’t have to take off work to vote in person; and both Saturday and Sunday, so there are no religious conflicts.

Of course, it should also be simple, convenient, and safe(!) to vote by mail instead.

See also, “Fall Closings & Minnesota Property Taxes.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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