On this Election Day, two Democratic state lawmakers have announced legislation 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) are the sponsors of the bill. They said current state law allows "reasonable time" for workers to vote, but hourly workers don’t have to be paid if they do.
The legislators noted a study from the U.S. Census that shows hourly employees working in restaurants and retail have the lowest election turnout rates, while salaried workers with flexible schedules such as lawyers and executives have the highest rates of turnout.
Ohio is one of 39 states with early voting, and offers the opportunity to cast ballots by mail or in person for 28 days before an election. But Sweeney said well over half of voters still go to their precincts on Election Day.
Sweeney says a paid holiday for governments and businesses would help voters, citing data showing the move would be especially helpful to single parents and those working multiple jobs.
“People like to vote on Election Day—they like to vote in person," Sweeney said. "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.”
This year, Sandusky replaced Columbus Day with election day as a paid holiday.
The Pew Research Center says 13 states have made election day a holiday: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The center says 71% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans support Election Day as a national holiday.