Last update: 2017jan22

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DATES OF U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION "EVENTS":
1789 to the present

* (asterisk) indicates the earliest date Presidential Electors could be "appointed" in a State (whether by Popular Vote or not); in these Presidential Elections, the latest date such Electors could be chosen (presumably, by methods other than Popular Election, such as- for example- choice by the Legislature) was, of course, the date Electors were scheduled to cast their votes in any event.

A date in italics indicates that a date other than the statutorily-defined date was utilized due to special circumstances (as explained below this table).

Four times in American History a Tabulation Joint Session of Congress itself did not declare a person to be elected either President or Vice-President (or both) on the date on which it met: a list of these circumstances follows:

  • Election No. 4 (1800) A tie in the Electoral Vote for President (at the time, each Elector voted for two persons for President) resulted in the U.S. House of Representatives (voting by State- and not as individual Congressmen)- after 36 ballots held over several days- electing Thomas Jefferson President (the other candidate in the Electoral Vote tie, Aaron Burr, became Vice President under the constitutional provisions of the time).
  • Election No. 10 (1824) No candidate having received a majority of the Electoral Vote for President (by now, under terms of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Electors voted separately for President and Vice-President: John Calhoun had already received a majority of the Electoral Vote for Vice-President), the U.S. House of Representatives, voting (by State- and not as individual Congressmen) on a single ballot, elected- as President- John Quincy Adams, who had finished second to Andrew Jackson in the Electoral Vote for President.
  • Election No. 13 (1836) No candidate having received a majority of the Electoral Vote for Vice-President (Martin Van Buren had already received a majority of the Electoral Vote for President), the U.S. Senate (voting as individual Senators- not by State) elected, as Vice-President, Richard Mentor Johnson.
  • Election No. 23 (1876) As described more fully below this table, disputed Electoral Votes coming out of several States made it impossible for Congress- via the ordinary constitutional machinery- to determine just who had been elected both President and Vice-President.
Election No.
[for (N)th
Administration]
Date Presidential
Electors "appointed"
[Presidential Election]
Date Electors
cast their votes
in the several States
Date Electoral Vote
tabulated by a Joint
Session of Congress
17 January 17894 February 17896 April 1789
2*2 November 17925 December 179213 February 1793
3*4 November 17967 December 17968 February 1797
4*31 October 18003 December 180011 February 1801
5*2 November 18045 December 180413 February 1805
6*4 November 18087 December 18088 February 1809
7*30 October 18122 December 181210 February 1813
8*1 November 18164 December 181612 February 1817
9*3 November 18206 December 182014 February 1821
10*29 October 18241 December 18249 February 1825
11*31 October 18283 December 182811 February 1829
12*2 November 18325 December 183213 February 1833
13*4 November 18367 December 18368 February 1837
14*30 October 18402 December 184010 February 1841
15*1 November 18444 December 184412 February 1845
167 November 18486 December 184814 February 1849
172 November 18521 December 18529 February 1853
184 November 18563 December 185611 February 1857
196 November 18605 December 186013 February 1861
208 November 18647 December 18648 February 1885
213 November 18682 December 186810 February 1869
225 November 18724 December 187212 February 1873
237 November 18766 December 18761 February 1877 (2 March 1877)
242 November 18801 December 18809 February 1881
254 November 18843 December 188411 February 1885
266 November 188814 January 188913 February 1889
278 November 18929 January 18938 February 1893
283 November 189611 January 189710 February 1897
296 November 190014 January 190113 February 1901
308 November 19049 January 19058 February 1905
313 November 190811 January 190910 February 1909
325 November 191213 January 191312 February 1913
337 November 19168 January 191714 February 1917
342 November 192010 January 19219 February 1921
354 November 192412 January 192511 February 1925
366 November 192814 January 192913 February 1929
378 November 19329 January 19338 February 1933
383 November 193614 December 19366 January 1937
395 November 194016 December 19406 January 1941
407 November 194418 December 19446 January 1945
412 November 194813 December 19486 January 1949
424 November 195215 December 19526 January 1953
436 November 195617 December 19567 January 1957
448 November 196019 December 19606 January 1961
453 November 196414 December 19646 January 1965
465 November 196816 December 19686 January 1969
477 November 197218 December 19726 January 1973
482 November 197613 December 19766 January 1977
494 November 198015 December 19806 January 1981
506 November 198417 December 19847 January 1985
518 November 198819 December 19884 January 1989
523 November 199214 December 19926 January 1993
535 November 199616 December 19969 January 1997
547 November 200018 December 20006 January 2001
552 November 200413 December 20046 January 2005
564 November 200815 December 20088 January 2009
576 November 201217 December 20124 January 2013
588 November 201619 December 20166 January 2017

Election No. [for (N)th Administration]:

As is the case with Congresses of two years' duration each, Presidential Administrations of four years' duration- likewise- can be numbered (in fact, the number of a given four year "Administration" is half of the number of the later of the two Congresses in office during that Administration: for example, because it was the 110th Congress that was meeting during the last two years of President George W. Bush's second term, those four years of that term make up the 55th Administration [110/2 = 55]).

Although it is altogether unofficial, Presidential Elections can be numbered according to the number of the Administration of the President that has been elected therein (thus, the 2004 Presidential Election- which resulted in President George W. Bush being elected to a second term [again, the aforementioned 55th Adminstration]- was Presidential Election No. 55).

Date Presidential Electors "appointed" [Presidential Election]:

Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress...
from Article II, Section 1, clause 2 of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

The "appointment" (to use the proper constitutional language, as seen above) of Presidential Electors is what ordinary Americans mean when we say 'Presidential Election' - even though many Americans are most unaware that they are really choosing a slate of Electors rather than, as they would describe what they are doing, "voting for President" (and- obviously, at the very same time- Vice President).

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors...
from Article II, Section 1, clause 4 of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

Nowadays, this is the day United States citizens resident in the 50 constituent States of the Union and the District of Columbia who wish to vote in said Presidential Election (and are, indeed, eligible [and have registered] to do so) go to their respective polling places and cast their votes (although several States now permit Early Voting and, even apart from this, many Americans will vote by Absentee Ballot- in each case, actually casting votes well before this date [but their votes will not be counted until this date])- but, in the earliest days of the Federal Republic, it was merely the date- or dates- on which each State formally chose its Presidential Electors (whether such choice was by Popular Vote of the State citizenry or not-- not until 1836 did all but one State allow for Popular Vote for President [in reality, the People of the States "appointing"- to use the language found in the U.S. Constitution itself- their State's Presidential Electors thereby]).

What follows is the actual text of the regulations for said Presidential Election (again, this being the date Presidential Electors are to be "appointed") and the election years in which a given regulation was actually in effect:

1789:

...[T]he first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing Electors in the several States...
from Resolution of 13 September 1788 by the Confederation [=Continental] Congress

1792 through 1844:

...[E]lectors shall be appointed in each State for the election of a President and Vice-President of the United States, withint thirty-four days preceding the first Wednesday in December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, and within thirty-four days preceding the first Wednesday in December in every fourth year succeeding the last election, which Electors shall be equal to the number of Senators and Representatives, to which the several States may by Law be entitled at the time...
from 1 Stat. 239, Section 1

1848 to the present:

... [T]he Electors of President and Vice-President shall be appointed in each State on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed...
from 5 Stat. 721

although the date of the Presidential Election itself was not at all changed, the verbiage in the relevant statute was later tweaked as follows:

The Electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.
from 62 Stat. 672, now codified as United States Code: Title 3, section 1 [3 USC 1]


Date Electors cast their votes in the several States:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot...
from Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES (language retained in the 12th AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution)

The Presidential Electors so "appointed"- nowadays, however indirectly, by vote of the People in each of the several States of the Union (and D.C.)- must later meet in each jurisdiction (note that- despite prevalent use of the term- there is no such thing as a single "Electoral College" all meeting together; rather, the Electors from each State [and D.C.] meet separately- thus, there are really 51 separate "electoral colleges") and cast their votes for President and Vice-President.

[The Congress may determine]... the day on which [the Electors] shall give their votes, which day shall be the same throughout the United States.
from Article II, Section 1, clause 4 of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

Even though they do meet separately, the Electors must meet on the very same day and the actual text of the regulations governing just which day is to be the date of these separate "electoral colleges"- along with the election years in which said regulations were in force- follow:

1789:

...[T]he first Wednesday in February next be the day for the Electors to assemble in their respective States and vote for a President...
from Resolution of 13 September 1788 by the Confederation [=Continental] Congress

1792 through 1884:

...[T]he Electors shall meet and give their votes on the... first Wednesday in December...
from 1 Stat. 239, Section 2

1888 through 1932:

...[T]he Electors of each State shall meet and give their votes on the second Monday in January next following their appointment...
from 24 Stat. 373, Section 1

1936 to the present:

The Electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment
from 62 Stat. 673, now codified as United States Code: Title 3, Section 7 [3 USC 7]


Date Electoral Vote tabulated by a Joint Session of Congress:

...The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates [containing the Electoral Vote from each jurisdiction], and the votes shall then be counted...
from Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES (language retained in the 12th AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution)

Even with the Presidential Electors having met and fufilled their constitutional obligations, a President (or, for that matter, Vice President) of the United States is not officially elected unless and until the Congress of the United States says he or she is. In this regard (and despite the oft-heard claim that the U.S. Supreme Court "really" elected George W. Bush President back in 2000), Congress is- more or less- the "umpire" or "referee" in any and all Presidential Elections.

A Joint Session of Congress counts and tabulates the Electoral Vote sent to it by the "electoral colleges" in the several States and the District of Columbia (thus, this meeting of the Federal legislature is colloquially referred to as the "Tabulation Joint Session") and then- assuming, of course, that a candidate has received a majority of the total Electoral Vote- officially declares just who has been elected President (and Vice President).

As with the dates of the Presidential Election (that is, "appointing" of the Electors) and the several "electoral colleges" themselves, the date on which Congress holds this Tabulation Joint Session is also regulated by statute. What follows is the actual text of such regulations (and, again, the elections for which they were in effect):

1789:

... [T]he first Wednesday in March be the time... for commencing proceedings under the... Constitution.
from Resolution of 13 September 1788 by the Confederation [=Continental] Congress
(NOTE: Thus, 4 March 1789 was the earliest date on which the Electoral Vote could be formally counted by Congress; as things turned out, the First Congress did not achieve a quorum in both houses [necessary in order to hold a Joint Session of the entire Congress] until 6 April 1789 and, so, the Electoral Vote coming out of the first Presidential Election was not counted and tabulated by Congress until that date)

1792 through 1872; 1880 through 1932:

... Congress shall be in session on the second Wednesday in February, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, and on the second Wednesday in February succeeding every meeting of the Electors, and the certificates [containing the Electoral Vote from each jurisdiction]... shall then be opened, the votes counted, and the persons who shall fill the offices of President and Vice-President ascertained and declared, agreeably to the Constitution.
from 1 Stat. 239, Section 5
[NOTE: The Election of 1876 (the [in?]famous 'Disputed Election' between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes) was a special case-- please see what immediately follows]

1876 only:

...[T]he Senate and House of Representatives shall meet... on the first Thursday in February, anno Domini eighteen hundred and seventy-seven...
from 19 Stat. 227, Section 1

It became apparent, well before the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress following this Presidential Election (that is, the "appointing" of Electors by the People of the several States via the ballot) was scheduled to meet on 14 February 1877, that something was terribly wrong with the Electoral Vote coming out of the meetings of more than a few "electoral colleges" held on 6 December 1876: not only would the Electoral Vote be altogether close (as could be easily discerned from the reports of the Popular Returns in each State as already published in newspapers around the Nation) but at least three States in the South (this still being the era of post-Civil War Reconstruction) were sending two sets of Electoral Votes- one in favor of each Major Party presidential candidate- to Congress. To make matters worse, one of these Major Parties controlled one house of the (in those days, it was the outgoing ["lame duck"]) Congress, while the other Party controlled the other (so there was no possibility of a mere Party line vote in Congress electing one Party's candidate President in any event).

To this end, Congress quickly passed legislation (it was signed into law by outgoing President Ulysses S. Grant on 29 January 1877) completely bypassing the whole, more usual, process of Electoral Vote counting, instead requiring Congress to hold what would otherwise be the normal Tabulation Joint Session early- in this case, on 1 February 1877- to discern just which States were in dispute and then formally handing such disputes over to a so-called "Electoral Commission" consisting of Senators, Congressmen and U.S. Supreme Court Justices appointed to the task by Congress itself (the earlier-than-usual meeting of Congress in Tabulation Joint Session was intended to buy the Electoral Commission more time [an extra fortnight] in which to resolve these disputes, for there was ever a looming deadline of 4 March 1877, on which date a new President- whoever it turned out to be- would have to take office [if only because, by a combination of constitutional fiat and Federal statute, President Grant's term ended- no matter what!- on that very date]).

... [after the Electoral Commission has determined which Electors' vote shall be officially counted in each of the disputed States] the two houses shall again meet, and such decision [of the Electoral Commission] shall be read and entered in the journal of each House, and the counting of the [Electoral] votes shall proceed in conformity therewith...
from 19 Stat. 227, Section 2

Congress, thus, would have to hold a "follow-up" Joint Session after the Electoral Commission had reported its decision as regarded each State re: which its Electoral Vote was in dispute and the last such Joint Session to count and tabulate a disputed State's Electoral Vote as decided by the Electoral Commission was held on 2 March 1877, just two days before the new President thereby elected [Rutherford B. Hayes] would constitutionally take office (interestingly, Hayes was not publicly inaugurated until 5 March 1877 because 4 March- the date on which, at the time, a newly-elected Congress as well as a newly-elected President took office- happened to fall on a Sunday that year; however, because the 1876 Presidential Election dispute had been so politically charged [the vote of the Electoral Commission itself had been along Party lines, 8-7 in favor of the Republican Electors, in all disputed cases], there were actual fears of a coup d'etat instigated by supporters of Tilden! Thus, Hayes was first sworn in privately, at the White House on the invitation of outgoing President Grant, on the evening of Saturday 3 March [it also didn't help that neither Constitution nor statute made clear just when, on 4 March, the President actually took office; inaugurating the President during the day was traditional but there was an argument to be made that his Term of Office, as well as those of Congressmen and newly elected or re-elected U.S. Senators- had actually begun at Midnight Local Mean Time in Washington (Standard Time was still a decade away in 1877): to this end, an outgoing Congress- never all that sure it had any authority to act early on a given 4 March- always adjourned sine die no later than 3 March... it is for this very reason that the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution- which moved up the beginnings of terms of members of Congress to 3 January and the term of a President to 20 January- purposely makes clear that terms of office begin- and end- at Noon in the Nation's Capital (now on Eastern Standard Time, of course)]).

1936 to the present:

Congress shall be in session on the sixth day of January succeeding every meeting of the Electors... [and] all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes... shall be opened, presented, and acted upon...
from 62 Stat. 675, now codified as United States Code: Title 3, section 15 [3 USC 15]

There have been, since the 1936 Presidential Election, six exceptions to 6 January being the date for the Tabulation Joint Session: two of these were merely because 6 January happened to fall on a Sunday- in 1957 and 1985- and, in each such case, the Tabulation Joint Session was held on the following day (thus, these do not appear in italics in the table above).

Four other cases, however, were expressly permitted by statute:

[I]n carrying out the procedure set forth in section 15 of Title 3, United States Code, for 1989, `the fourth day of January' shall be substituted for `the sixth day of January' in the first sentence of such section.
102 Stat. 3341 (adopted 9 November 1988)--
thereby, the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress resulting from the 1988 Presidential Election was held two days early relative to the statutory date- on 4 January 1989;

The meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives to be held in January 1997 pursuant to section 15 of Title 3, United States Code, to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President cast by the electors in December 1996 shall be held on January 9, 1997 (rather than on the date specified in the first sentence of that section).
110 Stat. 3558 (adopted 11 October 1996)--
thereby, the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress resulting from the 1996 Presidential Election was held three days late relative to the statutory date- on 9 January 1997 (this last was necessitated by the newly-elected 105th Congress not even first convening for its First Session until 7 January of that year)

The meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives to be held in January 2009 pursuant to section 15 of title 3, United States Code, to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President cast by the electors in December 2008 shall be held on January 8, 2009 (rather than on the date specified in the first sentence of that section).
122 Stat. 4846 (adopted 15 October 2008)--
thereby, the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress resulting from the 2008 Presidential Election was to be held two days late relative to the statutory date- on 8 January 2009 (this last necessitated by the newly-elected 111th Congress not even first convening for its First Session until 6 January of that year)

The meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives to be held in January 2013 pursuant to section 15 of title 3, United States Code, to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President cast by the electors in December 2012 shall be held on January 4, 2013 (rather than on the date specified in the first sentence of that section). 126 Stat. 1610 (adopted 28 December 2012)--
thereby, the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress resulting from the 2012 Presidential Election was to be held two days early relative to the statutory date- on 4 January 2013 (this last necessitated by the fact that 6 January happened to fall on a Sunday that year).

In these four cases immediately above, the date of the Tabulation Joint Session does appear in italics in the table.