Northam proposes Election Day state holiday
It would replace Lee-Jackson Day in honor of Confederate generals
Gov. Ralph Northam announced legislative proposals on Monday to allow early voting during the 45-day period before an election and to make Election Day a state holiday by abolishing the state’s longstanding Lee-Jackson Day, which honors the birthdays of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Virginia currently requires voters who wish to vote absentee to provide the state with an approved reason, such as being a student, having a disability or illness, being a first responder or residing temporarily outside of the U.S.
“Voting is a fundamental right,” Northam said in a statement. “But in a state that once put up tremendous barriers to voting, too many people are still unable to participate meaningfully in our democracy. By making it easier — not harder — to vote, these proposals will ensure we are building a government that is truly representative of the people we serve.”
The bill allowing early voting will be introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria.
Lee-Jackson Day was established more than 100 years ago to honor Lee and Jackson, but with legislation proposed by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Sussex, and Del. Joseph Lindsey, D-Norfolk, the holiday would be replaced by Election Day. This would maintain the same number of state holidays and allow time for Virginians to cast their ballots.
This year, Lee-Jackson Day will be observed on Jan. 17.