On Sunday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a sweeping series of bills into law in order to expand access to voting across the commonwealth.
Among the bills, according to the press release, includes one bill that would make Election Day a state holiday.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Northam said in the release. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law.”
The bill that made Election Day a state holiday, in one fell swoop also repealed “Lee-Jackson Day” holiday, which honored Confederate generals and slaveholders Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
“We need to make Election Day a holiday,” Northam had insisted earlier this year during his State of the Commonwealth speech, according to CNN. “We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds … It commemorates a lost cause. It’s time to move on.”
Among the other bills that were signed were one that removed the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting their ballot, a bill that would allow early voting 45 days before an election without giving a reason and a bill that would expand absentee voting timelines. Another bill also extends in-person polling hours by an hour (from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.).
“We need more access to the ballot box, not less,” Virginia Sen. Louise Lucas, who sponsored the bill to make Election Day a holiday said in the press release. “I am so proud to be a part of new laws that expand access to voting and make our commonwealth more representative of the people we serve. Today is a historic day.”
“Our democracy relies on equal access to the ballot box,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring added. “I’m grateful to the governor for his partnership in breaking down barriers to voting and ensuring all Virginians have the opportunity to exercise this fundamental right.”