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.
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.”