Proposed legislation currently in the Michigan House of Representatives would make regular elections in May, August, and November state holidays.
The bill was accompanied by a House joint resolution that calls on Congress to declare Election Day a federal holiday. In addition, the bill would encourage employers to allow their employees to have at least a half-day of paid leave in order to vote.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown), and the resolution was sponsored by Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham).
These proposals come almost a year after Michigan voters approved Proposal 3, which expanded voting rights in the Michigan constitution. The expanded voting provisions include straight-ticket voting, same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration with a new or renewed driver's license, and no-excuse absentee ballots.
Camilleri says Proposal 3 was a huge step in the right direction, but voters need even more accessibility and flexibility following years of voter suppression around the state.
“There is still a barrier to entry with absentee voting. You have to fill out a form, you have to fill out an application, you have to send it to your clerk, they have to send it back. So I think that still creates some issues for working people to have access to the ballot box," he said. "If we make election day, which is the most-known way that someone can participate in our democracy, easier to access, then I know our participation rates will go up.”
Manoogian agrees, and says that the joint resolution is important in sending a message to the rest of the country.
“I thought it was really important for our state, because we’re leading the country in voter access, that we have a House resolution that says that we would like to see that implemented at a national level," he said. "Proposal 3 did a lot of good things in terms of expanding the vote, but we want to make sure we’re giving folks the option and the opportunity to cast their ballot any way that they choose.”
Manoogian and Camilleri both think that making Election Day a holiday would also help with long lines at polling places, and would give working parents a greater opportunity to vote.