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Northam Backs Bills He Says Would Increase Voter Turnout

A layout of several "I Voted" stickers.
Governor Ralph Northam identified some voting rights legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session. (Yasmine Jumaa/VPM News)

VPM intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.

Governor Ralph Northam announced his support Monday for two bills that he says would help increase voter turnout in Virginia.

One of the bills, which is sponsored by Democratic Delegate Joseph Lindsey, would recognize Election Day as a state holiday, while also eliminating Lee-Jackson Day.

Northam says the state needs to get rid of one holiday to make a new one and that the celebration of the Confederate leaders should be off the books anyway.

“It’s in honor of two individuals that fought to prolong slavery, which is not a proud aspect of Virginia’s history,” Northam said.

The Governor says giving Virginians the day off work will also make it easier for them to get to the polls.

Another bill Northam is backing would get rid of the 20 reasons Virginians use to vote absentee. That bill is sponsored by Democratic Delegate Charnielle Herring.

The 20 reasons include being out of state on Election Day to attend college or for a business trip, as well as for religious obligations.  Northam says the reasons are too narrow.

“We can do better than that - it’s very cumbersome,” he said.

The proposal would also allow Virginians to vote 45 days before an election.

Northam says that he hopes the two proposals will help Virginians make a more representative government.

The General Assembly convenes this Wednesday.