Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday legislative proposals to implement early voting and make Election Day a state holiday. If passed, these important measures will make it easier for Virginians to exercise their right to vote.

“Voting is a fundamental right,” said Northam. “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.”

Virginia currently requires voters who wish to vote absentee to provide the state with a reason, from an approved list, why they are unable to vote on Election Day. The governor’s proposal for the 2020 legislative session will allow early voting during the 45 days before an election. This legislation will be patroned by state Sen. Mamie Locke and Delegate Charniele Herring.

The governor also is proposing to make Election Day a state holiday, so that every Virginian has the time and opportunity to cast their ballot. This measure would maintain the same number of state holidays by repealing Lee-Jackson Day, established more than 100 years ago to honor confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. In the Virginia code, both men are noted as “defenders of causes.” This legislation will be patroned by Senator Louise Lucas and Delegate Joseph Lindsey.

“Our democracy relies on equal access to the ballot box,” said Secretary of Administration Dr. Keyanna Conner. “These proposed measures confirm Governor Northam’s commitment to breaking down barriers and ensuring all citizens have the equal opportunity to exercise this constitutional right.”