An Ohio city made Election Day a paid day off by swapping it with a controversial holiday

voting polling place election day ohio

The city of Sandusky, Ohio, has made Election Day a paid holiday in a move to boost civic participation.
It only impacts municipal workers, but “this can spark a lot of conversation in the city with private employers or beyond the city with other local governments — our hope is that this can make a deeper impact,” city manager Eric Wobser said.
Election Day as a holiday is not a novel concept, and House Democrats in the 116th Congress have drafted the HR 1 bill, which, in addition to anti-corruption measures, would also make election day a holiday for employees in both the public and private sectors.

The city of Sandusky, Ohio just made a small but significant change to encourage civic participation.

Sandusky, which is located in the north of the state on the banks of Lake Erie, made Election Day a paid holiday — swapping it out for Columbus Day.

The swap only impacts roughly 250 municipal employees, NPR reports, but the change is significant for several reasons: It tackles Columbus Day, a controversial holiday, expands access to the polls, and it’s inspiring other cities to look into similar action.

“You know, some of the criticism that we’ve heard has really been around a couple of things, and one of those pieces of criticism is that it’s actually a pretty narrow application of the voting base, because we don’t have the ability to apply it to voters outside of city employees,” city manager Eric Wobser told INSIDER in an interview on Monday. “But again, we look at this as one effort of many efforts that we can make to improve access or remove barriers [to voting].

“This can spark a lot of conversation in the city with private employers or beyond the city with other local governments,” Wobser said. “Our hope is that this can make a deeper impact.”

And so far it has, Wobser told INSIDER that “we have heard from a lot of other local government that are considering doing something similar now,” from all around the country.

The genesis for this piece of legislation began with 2018 discussions on how to expand access to the polls and union negotiations four years prior that included dropping Columbus Day as a holiday.

The legislation went into immediate effect and will mean that this year’s Columbus Day, on October 14, 2019, will not be a paid holiday in Sandusky, while Election Day will be.

“In 2018 when we began conversations with the unions, we were much more focused on Election Day and prioritizing eliminating barriers to access the polls,” Wobser said, which in addition to wanting to make Election Day a holiday, included free rides to the polls.

During the 2019-2021 negotiations with the three major unions representing city workers, which began in 2018, the idea of swapping Columbus Day for Election Day as a paid holiday was met with very little pushback, Wobser told INSIDER.

According to NPR, the main concern was giving up the possibility of a three-day weekend, but the prospect of increased civic …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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