ILLINOIS — For some, Election Day is a holiday of sorts. Many state workers have the day off as a paid holiday.
As a matter of fact, the state is spending millions of dollars for thousands of state workers to take the day off to exercise their right to vote.
Since 1943, state workers have been paid to take Election Day off. But why? A report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission says there’s no real reason for the decision.
“Particularly, for decades, it’s very difficult to pull it back, but I don’t see any compelling reason why a state worker should have a holiday on Election Day.”
Michaelson says he suspects the idea was to get more people out to vote, but with more access to early voting, he says it shouldn’t remain a holiday.
“State workers already get more holidays off than most people in the private sector.”
By law, employees do have the right to leave their workplace to cast their ballot, but some say, if some people get the day off, everyone should have access to the same benefit.
“Everyone deserves that opportunity because, if others are excluded, then it’s not justifiable.”
Not everyone thinks it’s a bad idea.
“Opportunity to vote is a privilege. They should take advantage of it if they need an extra, additional day. They’re state workers, they support the state. They do a valuable process for the State of Illinois.”
The Department of Central Management Services says it costs about $13 million for state employees to get paid to not work.
“It would help the economy if they wouldn’t. We got enough going on, other investigations, political officials, corruption.”
There was discussion of making Election Day a national holiday in Congress, however, it never gained enough support.
“That’s been repealed every single time, mainly because the business community is saying it’s going to be far too expensive to give all these people Election Day off.”
State workers have an extra short work week. They’re also off Friday for Veterans Day.
Eleven other states give state employees the day off to cast ballots. Kentucky only declares it a holiday for presidential elections. New Mexico does not declare it a holiday, but allows workers two hours to leave work to vote.