Northam proposes expanded early voting, declaring Election Day a state holiday

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STERLING, VA – NOVEMBER 03: Virginia Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, campaigns at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society following Friday prayers November 3, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. Virginia will elect the next governor of the state next Tuesday, November 7. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced proposals on Monday that are designed to increase Virginians’ access to voting.

The governor wants to expand early voting and make Election Day a state holiday.

“Voting is a fundamental right,” Northam said. “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. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass these important measures into law.”

Under current election rules, Virginia voters must provide a reason when applying for an absentee ballot. Northam’s proposal would allow early voting in the 45 days before an election.

The governor also wants to make Election Day a state holiday while repealing Lee-Jackson Day, which was established more than 100 years ago in honor of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Removing Lee-Jackson Day and adding Election Day would maintain the same number of state holidays.

Northam’s legislative proposals will be patroned by Sen. Louis Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Del. Joseph Lindsey (D-Norfolk).

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