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Election day or polling day is the day on which general elections are held. In many countries, general elections are always held on a Saturday or Sunday, to enable as many voters as possible to participate; while in other countries elections are always held on a weekday. However, some countries, or regions within a country, which hold elections on a weekday declare election day a public holiday. Countries which permit absentee ballots, early ballots or postal votes to be cast by mail before the election avoid the problem altogether by enabling voters to vote on a day that is more convenient to them.
Sundays are the most common day for elections, but this is less true in the Anglosphere; Saturdays are used in New Zealand and Australia, and weekdays for the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. This is partially due to the influence of Protestantism, which historically set restrictions on activities other than church-going during the Sabbath (usually considered as falling on a Sunday).
An election day usually culminates in an election night when the results of the election are tallied and winners are announced.
Election day by country/territory
|Argentina||South America||Fourth Sunday of October immediately before the end of the current mandates.|
|Austria||Europe||Sundays. Nationalrat elections may be held on another public holiday.|
|Australia||Oceania||Saturday for federal, state and most local elections. Postal and early voting permitted. Some local elections are by postal voting only.|
|Belgium||Europe||Sunday (until 1894: Tuesday).|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Europe||Sunday.|
|Brazil||South America||First Sunday of October. Runoffs take place on the last Sunday of the same October.|
|Bulgaria||Europe||Saturday for legislative elections.|
|Canada||North America||Third Monday of October every four years, or after Parliament is dissolved by the Governor General.|
|Colombia||South America||Sunday: the second Sunday of March for Congress, and the second Sunday of May for President and Vice President.|
|Czech Republic||Europe||Traditionally elections are held over two days, starting on a Friday afternoon and ending the following Saturday afternoon.|
|Costa Rica||North America||Sunday: first Sunday of February for the President, Vice-President, and Legislative Assembly; second Sunday of February for municipal elections.|
|Denmark||Europe||Tuesday is most common, but other days are used frequently.|
|Ecuador||South America||Sunday.|
|El Salvador||North America||Sunday.|
|Estonia||Europe||Elections for the Riigikogu, which chooses both the president and prime minister, are on the first Sunday of March.|
|Germany||Europe||Sundays. Elections to the Bundestag may be held on another public holiday.|
|Hong Kong||Asia||Sundays (for legislative elections; the Chief Executive of Hong Kong is not elected by universal suffrage).|
|India||Asia||Elections are held over multiple days. The 2019 Indian general election, which began on a Thursday, took place over seven phases with six days between each phase. Constituencies vote only on the day of their respective phase.|
|Indonesia||Asia||Election dates are determined by the General Elections Commission (Indonesian: Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU), but must occur "on a holiday or a day determined as a national holiday" per the Indonesian electoral law of 2017.|
|Iran||Asia||Presidential elections take place on Fridays.|
|Ireland||Europe||Typically on a Friday, but precise date set by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.|
|Israel||Asia||By law on the third Tuesday of Cheshvan, but normally held on a different day. Election day is a holiday in Israel, so people do not have to work.|
|Italy||Europe||Municipal, provincial, and regional elections take place on Sundays, as do elections for the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and EU Parliament elections. Occasionally Mondays are added as voting day.|
|Lebanon||Asia||Until 2009, elections were held over several consecutive Sundays. The most recent election, the 2018 Lebanese general election, was also held on a Sunday.|
|Lithuania||Europe||Elections for the Seimas are on the second Sunday of October, and for the president the last Sunday two months before the end of the current president's term.|
|Macedonia||Europe||Sundays, but the 2020 North Macedonian parliamentary election departed from this standard. It was held over three weekdays after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|Malaysia||Asia||Traditionally on weekends. In 2018, the general election was held on Wednesday.|
|Mexico||North America||First Sunday of July until 2018, from 2021, first Sunday of June.|
|Netherlands||Europe||Typically on a Wednesday. For elections to the European Parliament, Thursday.|
|Nicaragua||North America||Sunday.|
|Norway||Europe||Monday in early September. Exact date set by the King of Norway.|
|Paraguay||South America||Sunday.|
|Philippines||Asia||Second Monday in May.|
|Puerto Rico||North America||Day after the first Monday in November.|
|Singapore||Asia||Saturdays, but can be any day of the week, such as when Saturdays conflict with holidays. By law, polling day is a public holiday if it falls on a weekday.|
|Slovakia||Europe||Slovakian elections are held across a Friday and Saturday, as in Czechia.|
|South Korea||Asia||Usually Wednesday. Election day is a national holiday.|
|Spain||Europe||There is no fixed election day for general elections, although since 1986 every general election has been held on Sunday.[n. 1] Municipal and provincial elections take place on the fourth Sunday of May.|
|Sweden||Europe||Second Sunday of September.|
|Switzerland||Europe||Saturday and Sunday.|
|United States||North America||All federal elections take place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.|
|Uruguay||South America||Sunday.|
Elections to the European Parliament take place over a period of four days (i.e., Thursday through to Sunday), according to the election days of the EU members states (as listed above). There are some exceptions; as Wednesday was not covered by the available dates, the Netherlands holds elections on Thursday, while Denmark holds elections on Sunday. Countries that hold the ballot before Sunday are not permitted to announce results until all other countries have finished voting.
- 22 June 1986, 29 October 1989, 6 June 1993, 3 March 1996, 12 March 2000, 14 March 2004, 9 March 2008, 20 November 2011, 20 December 2015, 26 June 2016.
- Brett, Judith (2019). From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting. Text Publishing. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-925626-81-0. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
Australia is one of only a handful of countries to hold elections on Saturdays. Cyprus, Malta, Iceland, Latvia, Slovakia, Taiwan, and New Zealand are the others. ... Most countries go to the polls on Sundays, except in the Protestant-dominated Anglosphere, where public activities on the Sabbath other than attending church have historically been severely restricted.
- Orr, Graeme (2016). "10". Ritual and Rhythm in Electoral Systems: A Comparative Legal Account.
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In most respects, Election Day appeared to be a model of local democracy in action, with notable differences from the US voting process. Elections are held on Sundays that are declared national holidays. All regular business is shut down to encourage voter turnout. Voting is compulsory--with non-excused abstention punishable by a hefty fine--as well as highly participatory. To encourage unbiased reflection, campaigning is prohibited for 72 hours ahead of the election, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages is outlawed for 48 hours.
- Schakel 2017, p. 42: "General elections for the state, entity and cantonal parliaments take place on the same date every four years. ... Elections are held on Sundays and election silence kicks in one day prior to the start of voting and lasts until the polling stations close. Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens residing abroad keep their full voting rights but rarely exercise it."
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- Law No. 18.700, Aprueba la Ley Orgánica Constitucional sobre Votaciones Populares y Escrutinios. Article 169 ("Los plebiscitos comunales se efectuarán en día domingo."); Article 174 ("Las elecciones no periódicas de Diputados se realizarán en la fecha que establezca el Presidente de la República ... que deberá recaer en un día domingo no anterior al nonagésimo ni posterior al centésimo vigésimo siguiente a la publicación de dicho decreto.").
- Election Law of Colombia (in Spanish), February 1993, p. 185. “Las elecciones para Congreso de la República se realizarán el segundo domingo de marzo. Las elecciones de Presidente y Vicepresidente se realizarán el segundo domingo de mayo. En caso que debe celebrarse nueva votación, de conformidad con lo dispuesto por el artículo 190 de la Constitución Política, esta tendrá lugar tres (3) semanas mas tarde."
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- Arató, Krisztina (2020). "Hungary". In Hloušek, Vít; Kaniok, Petr (eds.). The European Parliament Election of 2019 in East-Central Europe. p. 107. ISBN 9783030408589. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- "India Elects 2019: The World's Largest Election, Explained". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- "Why do India's elections take so long?". The Economist. 11 April 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
- "LAW OF REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA, NUMBER 7 YEAR 2017, GOVERNING ELECTIONS". Article 167, Act of 15 August 2017. People's Consultative Assembly of Indonesia. p. 116.
- "قانون انتخابات رياست جمهوري ايران" [Presidential Electoral Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran]. Chapter 20, Act of 2 March 1992 (PDF) (in Persian). Islamic Consultative Assembly.
- Ryan, Phillip; Horan, Niamh; O'Connor, Niall (31 January 2016). "Six Nations match at the centre of row over election date - Independent.ie". Independent.ie. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
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- Hrebenar, Ronald J. (2000). Japan's New Party System. Westview Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0813330570.
The decisions regarding which days will be election days and how the voters will indicate their candidate preferences are uniquely Japanese. Election days call on Sundays in Japan. Because Sunday is a holiday, primary and junior high schools can be used as voting sites; moreover, it is assumed that more citizens will be able to vote on a Sunday. But the choice of which Sunday is usually left up to the politicians.
- Arda Arsenian Ekmekji (July 2012). Confessionalism and Electoral Reform in Lebanon (PDF) (Report). Aspen Institute. p. 11. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
- Olechno, Artur (2011). Political Systems Of The Central And Eastern European Countries. pp. 105–108. ISBN 9788362813155. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- "Voters reminded not to reveal voting intention at Sunday's polling".
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- González, Elizabeth (1 June 2022). "Tribunal Electoral de Panamá convoca a elecciones generales de 2024". CNN (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 July 2022.
- Carter, Jimmy. "Peru Can Give U.S. Lessons in How to Hold Elections". www.cartercenter.org. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
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- Grabowska, Miroslava (2016). "Religiosity, the Catholic Church, and Politics in Poland". In Ramet, Sabrina P.; Borowik, Irena (eds.). Religion, Politics, and Values in Poland: Continuity and Change Since 1989. Palgrave MacMillan. p. 268. ISBN 9781137437518. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
- “Código Electoral de Puerto Rico para el Siglo XXI”: Ley Núm. 78 de 1 de Junio de 2011, según enmendada. CAPÍTULO IX. – PROCEDIMIENTOS ANTERIORES A LA ELECCIÓN; VOTACIÓN: Artículo 9.001. – Fecha de las Elecciones. – (16 L.P.R.A. § 4141) Gobierno de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico. p. 66 of 104. Accessed 8 November 2019.
- "Статья 10. Назначение выборов" [Article 10. Election scheduling]. Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (in Russian). Retrieved 28 December 2018.
Голосование на выборах может быть назначено только на воскресенье.
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Accordingly, all Vietnamese citizens satisfying the law-specified conditions are entitled to exercise the rights to vote and to stand for election; the Vietnamese State has the obligation to legally guarantee and create favorable conditions for citizens to exercise their rights. The current election law makes it clearer by stipulating that elections will be held on Sundays so that voters may arrange their schedules to go to the polls while polling places must be located at areas convenient for voters and those who cannot go to polling booths may cast their votes with mobile ballot boxes.