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Representatives Propose Bill to Make Election Day a Paid State Holiday

A 'thank you for voting sign'
A 'thank you for voting sign' is seen in front of the Northeast Ohio Medical University polling station in Rootstown, Ohio. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

On this Election Day, two Democratic state lawmakers announced they’re introducing a bill to make future general election days paid state holidays for all Ohio workers.

State Reps. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) say state law allows workers to take time off to vote, but hourly workers don’t have to be paid if they do. And though Ohio has 28 days of early voting, Sweeney says a paid holiday for governments and businesses that would observe it would help voters – especially single parents and those working multiple jobs.

Sweeney says more than half of voters prefer casting ballots in person rather than during 28 days of early voting.

“People like to vote on Election Day – they like to vote in person," said Sweeney. "And also, a lot can change when you have 28 days – they are still making up their minds. So they should have that opportunity if they so choose.”

Sweeney adds it’s hard for many to get time off on a weekday to vote.

Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney

“That would be wonderful if it does increase voter turnout," said Sweeney. "But the thing is about making sure, that I think as politicians, that we don’t have unnecessary barriers to people who want to vote. The fact of the matter, when Election Day is on Tuesday, people are working. That is a barrier.”

This year Sandusky replaced Columbus Day with Election Day as a paid holiday. Thirteen states have made Election Day a holiday, including blue states New York and Maryland and red states West Virginia and Kentucky.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.