A bill to declare regular election days in Michigan state holidays was introduced in the House of Representatives last week as part of a larger package aimed at increasing access to voting.
HB 5191, sponsored by Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-23-Brownstown), would make regular election days in May, August and November state holidays. It also would encourage employers to allow employees to take a half-day of paid leave to make sure they had the opportunity to vote.
“Voting is at the very foundation of our democracy — it’s our best tool to hold our elected officials accountable and chart a new course for the future,” said Camilleri in a statement. “But even today, many people can’t exercise this fundamental right in a meaningful way because they can’t get the time off work. With this legislation, we have an opportunity to expand access to voting in Michigan by ensuring that residents can fulfill their civic duty without jeopardizing their job or financial security.”
Several other states have declared election days as civic holidays or passed bills requiring employers to allow employees paid leave time in order to vote.
A House Joint Resolution by Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-40-Birmingham) also calls on Congress to make Election Day a national holiday.
“Every citizen who wishes to vote should be able to,” Manoogian said. “For Americans working multiple jobs to support themselves and their families, it can be impossible to find the time to vote.”
Michigan voters approved Proposal 3 — also known as Promote the Vote — in November of this year. The proposal allows any voter to cast an absentee ballot and allows for voter registration up to and including an election day. It also automatically registers eligible citizens to vote when they get a new driver’s license or state-issued identification.
“By passing this resolution and making voting day a national holiday, the government is sending the message that the election process, and each vote, matters,” said state Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Huntington Woods, who co-sponsored the package.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]mail.com.
Photo “People Voting” by Wyofile. CC BY 2.0.