Should Election Day be a holiday? Three Atlanta City Council members say it should

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Three Atlanta City Council members are proposing a measure that would make Election Day a holiday — at least for employees of the City of Atlanta.

Council members Amir Farokhi, Jennifer Ide and Matt Westmoreland introduced legislation Monday that would declare Election Day an official holiday for city employees.

The bill’s sponsors say they believe that the measure would offer relief to workers who find it hard to balance busy schedules with the desire to vote.

“Atlanta has some of the worst wait times in the state as well as polls that close early relative to the national average,” said Ide. “This bill would ease some pressure on employees struggling to cast their vote amidst these and other obstacles.” 

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The legislation comes in the wake of a contentious 2018 gubernatorial race in which the three council members say the voting rights of many Georgians came under fire.

The sponsors say they believe their bill is a small step towards addressing these and other challenges.

“Ultimately, the fight for voting rights must be won at the state and federal level,” said Farokhi. “But that’s no excuse to ignore the issue altogether. Through this bill, we can make a difference for Atlanta workers. We can make a statement that our city doesn’t represent the same values as our state when it comes to voter discrimination.”

While the legislation is limited in scope to city employees, the bill’s authors hope that others will follow suit.

“We’re leading from the front on this,” Westmoreland said. “Hopefully Atlanta can be a positive example for others. In time, we’d like to see other jurisdictions and even private companies extend the holiday to their employees.” 

The proposal now moves to the Finance/Executive Committee, where it will be taken up Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. in Committee Room No. 1 at Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. SW. 

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