Why Tuesday? Why November? Why elephants? Election mysteries solved

By Holly Yan

Published October 30, 2018

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The US has some puzzling election traditions. Here's the story on how they got started:

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Why Tuesday?

Back when voters traveled to the polls by horse, Tuesday was an ideal day because it allowed people to worship on Sunday, ride to their county seat on Monday and vote on Tuesday - all before market day, Wednesday.

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So why November?

November had always fit nicely between harvest time and brutal winter weather -- which was especially bad if traveling by horse and buggy.

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Why is the Republican logo an elephant?

Back in 1874, cartoonist Thomas Nast used an elephant to depict the Republican vote in his drawing "The Third-Term Panic." Some were criticizing the idea of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant running for a third term. (Grant didn't end up running in the next election.)


Why is the Democratic logo a donkey?

In 1828, Democrat Andrew Jackson's critics called him a "jackass" because of his populist views. Jackson decided to run with it -- even using images of a donkey in his campaign ads.


Why do new Congress members wait until January to take office?

It actually used to be March, back when it took longer to count ballots and move to Washington. But the 20th Amendment changed Congress' start date to January 3.

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