Heeding a call by progressives including voting rights and indigenous rights groups alike, the city of Sandusky, Ohio will swap Columbus Day for Election Day as a paid holiday—allowing all city workers to take Election Day off so they can vote.
Starting next year, Sandusky, which is home to 25,000 people and lies 60 miles west of Cleveland, will no longer recognize the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas every October, instead prioritizing residents' ability to get to the polls.
CYMI: Sandusky, Ohio, is making Election Day a paid holiday in lieu of celebrating Columbus Day!
Polls show that 71 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans nationally are in favor of making Election Day a national holiday. https://t.co/3oiFgVLAnK
— America Votes (@AmericaVotes) February 7, 2019
"Sandusky is proud to recognize Election Day as a holiday," officials wrote on the city's Facebook page. "What better way to celebrate the value of our employees and citizens than by removing barriers for them to participate in the greatest of American innovations, our democracy."
The government watchdog group Public Citizen was among those that praised the city for its decision, also calling for the change to be made at a national level.
BREAKING: Sandusky, Ohio will stop observing Columbus Day — switching the holiday to Election Day instead.
This needs to happen nationally. https://t.co/asabJwMB2D
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— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) February 7, 2019
City manager Eric Wobser told the Sandusky Register that shifting away from the "controversial" Columbus Day holiday, as several cities and towns have in recent years, was also important to the city.
In 2018 alone, about a dozen cities including San Francisco and Cincinnati renamed the second Monday in October "Indigenous People's Day," choosing to celebrate Native American history and heritage instead of the European explorer whose journey to the Americas began a genocide which killed an estimated 56 million native people, and centuries of ongoing violence perpetrated against Indigenous people.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has publicly called for Columbus Day to be eliminated nationally and for Election Day to be made a paid holiday instead.
How is Columbus Day a holiday but Election Day not?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 18, 2018
A poll released last Election Day by The Hill and HarrisX found that most respondents were in favor of making the day a national holiday. Another survey by Pew Research showed that of Americans who did not vote in the 2016 elections, 14 percent didn't vote because their schedule didn't allow them to get to the polls—suggesting that a paid holiday would help many to vote.