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In the United States, Election Day is the annual day set by law for the general elections of federal public officials. It is statutorily set by the Federal Government as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” equaling the Tuesday occurring within November 2 to November 8.
For federal offices (president, vice president, and United States Congress) and most gubernatorial offices (all except for Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia), Election Day occurs only in even-numbered years. Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four, in which electors for president and vice president are chosen according to the method determined by each state. Elections to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate are held every two years; all representatives are elected to serve two-year terms and are up for election every two years, while senators serve six-year terms, staggered so that one third of senators are elected in any given general election. General elections in which presidential candidates are not on the ballot are referred to as midterm elections. Terms for those elected begin in January the following year; the president and vice president are inaugurated (sworn in) on Inauguration Day, which is usually January 20.
Many state and local government offices are also elected on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost saving, although a handful of states hold elections for state offices (such as governor) during odd-numbered off years, or during other even-numbered midterm years, and may hold special elections for offices that have become vacant. Congress has mandated a uniform date for presidential (3 U.S.C. § 1) and congressional (2 U.S.C. § 1 and 2 U.S.C. § 7) elections, though early voting is nonetheless authorized in many states, and states also have mail voting procedures.
The fact that Election Day falls on a Tuesday has become controversial in recent decades, as many people might be unable to vote because of their job. It is a public holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, as well as the territory of the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. Some other states require that workers be permitted to take time off with pay. California requires that employees otherwise unable to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay, at the beginning or end of a shift. A federal holiday called Democracy Day, to coincide with Election Day, has been proposed, and some have proposed moving election day to the weekend. Other movements in the IT and automotive industries encourage employers to voluntarily give their employees paid time off on Election Day.
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