In an effort to increase voting participation, Election Day would be made a state holiday in Virginia.
The Virginia House has voted to replace the Lee-Jackson Day holiday with a newly-minted Election Day holiday, which would give state workers the day off on Election Day and encourage more voting participation. The legislation will still need to be approved by the Virginia Senate before it can be implemented.
In addition to allowing Virginia state employees more time for voting, the measure would also complete one of Governor Ralph Northam’s legislative goals.
In his 2020 State of the Commonwealth address, Northam said, “We need to make Election Day a holiday. ... We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds. ... It commemorates a lost cause. It’s time to move on.”
There are multiple precedents for Election Day being a state holiday. Four states—Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, and New York—close their state offices on the first Tuesday in November. And the numbers show that making Election Day a state holiday increases the number of voters. For instance, in 2018, Delaware enjoyed its highest voter turnout rate since 1994, while Virginia’s voter turnout for those midterm elections ranked 7th in that time frame in terms of percentage of registered voters who voted.
While it is still a long way from being a federal holiday, Election Day as a state holiday has been successful for Virginia’s neighbors, so hopefully, the measure will pass in the Virginia Senate.
Tell us in the comments what other days should be state holidays! We want to hear your thoughts!