State lawmakers take up the fight for an Election Day holiday
Congress may have given up on making Election Day a national holiday, but state lawmakers may have just begun their fight.
The catch-all reform bill passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives originally included language to make Election Day a national holiday. But even before the bill died on the steps of the Senate, House members stripped out that language.
But advocates for the cause can look to the statehouses, which are considering related legislation in record numbers.
In 2019, lawmakers in 23 states filed 47 bills related to Election Day holidays, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures and additional reporting.
That's twice as many states and three times as many bills addressing election holidays than the annual average since 2011, according to NCSL, which shows an average of eight states and 14 bills addressed the topic through 2018.
Of the 21 states, only three enacted legislation addressing Election Day holidays, however.
- Louisiana lawmakers made November elections in even-numbered years a public school holiday.
- New York now provides workers three hours of paid leave to vote on election days.
- Oklahoma extended an existing law that provided two hours of paid leave to workers on Election Day to include days of in-person absentee voting.
Despite few bills passing, interest in making in-person voting a state holiday doesn't appear to be slowing.
Last week, lawmakers in Michigan filed a bill designating state holidays for regular election days in May, August and November while Ohio lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday making Election Day a paid state holiday for all workers.
The Michigian and Ohio bills, both sponsored by Democrats, are not yet included in the NCSL database.
Only 13 states have adopted Election Day as a paid holiday for state employees as of last year, according to the Council of State Governments.
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Efforts to fend off election hackers in 2020 and beyond have revolved around protecting ballot equipment and the databases of registered voters. Little attention has been focused on the vendors and their employees.
But the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice is proposing that the vendors who make election equipment and related systems be subjected to heightened oversight and vetting, much like defense contractors or others involved in national security.
"There is almost no federal regulation of the vendors that design and maintain the systems that allow us to determine who can vote, how they vote, or how their votes are counted and reported," according to a new report from the nonpartisan policy institute.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a message for corporations: The country is in trouble, so get off your butt.
The foundation made its pitch to the business community in a newly published white paper chronicling the sorry state of civics education, the role that corporations can play in healing a divided country and why it should all matter to businesses.
The health of civics education is "quite bleak," foundation President Carolyn Cawley said in an introduction to the paper, which she called "the first step in our efforts to make the business case for civics."
With the support and buy-in of the private sector, the foundation believes, the country stands a better chance at improving civic education and engagement, which in turn could heal the in-fighting, distrust and misinformation undermining the health of the country and well-being of corporate America.