Interesting facts about voting in the USA

Learn a little bit about the history and a few surprises that happened .

As we gear up to make our choice for the future of this country, we take a look at some of the curious and interesting facts about voting over the years.

Who says your vote doesn’t count!

Twelve votes for United States for state legislatures and U.S. Senate ended up tied. Over a dozen state and national races ended with the result decided by one vote. Theodore Roosevelt won Maryland during the 1904 Presidential vote by 51 over Alton Parker. What happens if there is a tie? Each state has it’s own rules for deciding a tie from drawing straws in Mississippi in 2015 to coin tosses to special elections.

Here are what local state rules are for state House & Senate seats from the National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • Arkansas – Special runoff election three weeks from the day of the general election.
  • Louisiana – Special runoff election on the third Saturday after the proclaimed results.
  • Oklahoma – The appropriate board selects by lot in a public meeting and in the presence of the candidates involved or their designee.
  • Texas – First a recount. If the recount is tied, then a special election is held between the 20th and 30th day after the final recount. The tying candidates may agree to cast lots or one of the candidates can withdraw from the race.
Ties can happen in an election.

No booze before voting.

Long ago, many states and local municipalities wrote laws banning the sale of alcohol. None such laws exist nowadays.

Voting from miles above us.

According to NASA, most astronauts that head to space become residents of Texas (since they spend a lot of time training there) but any county or parish can be a part of this process. Before liftoff, astronauts fill out a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) to signal that they will vote from space in the election. Before the election, the county or parish clerk where the astronaut resides sends a test ballot. Then, It is sent through a training computer to the International Space Station (ISS) to test whether the astronaut can fill it out and send it back. On Election Day, a secure electronic ballot is sent by the clerk’s office to the ISS. Another email from the astronaut’s home clerk’s office is sent with specific credentials. These credentials unlock the ballot. The astronaut votes and sends the ballot back to the County Clerk’s Office where the clerk has their own password to unlock the ballot and then count it. Astronaut Kate Robins will be on the ISS on Election Day. She has already filled out her FPCA. She voted from space in 2016 as well.

Astronauts vote from the International Space Station

It’s a holiday (for some)

Several states declare Election Day as a civic holiday: Louisiana, Ohio, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico. Efforts to make Election Day a federal holiday keep coming up short.

Why a Tuesday in November?

Go back to the 1800s and you’ll understand why we vote on a Tuesday. Back then, Tuesdays were the best day to vote because most of America was rural. Sometimes it took over a day to travel to the polling stations (usually only at the county seat). Wednesdays usually were the days farmers sold at local markets so that knocked out Wednesday and Thursday. Most everyone attended church services on Sunday so voting couldn’t happen on Saturdays, Sundays or Mondays. By November, most crops have been harvested so farmers did not have to worry about missing out on a harvest to vote. By 1845, Congress passed a federal law declaring the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November as Election Day for presidential elections.

Tuesdays made the most sense for rural America.

Tired of all the political ads? Try living here.

For those living in a central part of a state, you may only see political ads about once or twice a year for a few weeks. If you reside near a border with another state, you have to see and listen to two state elections. For those living in the Ark-La-Tex, we get bombarded with election ads from FOUR states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma). Between contests for President, Governor, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, State Legislatures, Mayors, City Councils, etc. you’re bound to see and hear some sort of advertisements asking for your vote. Even from another state.

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