City commissioners in Sandusky, Ohio, voted Jan. 30 to knock Columbus Day off their list of recognized holidays and replace it with Election Day.
The change, which makes Election Day a paid day off for all government employees, reflects a growing national drift from celebrating the birth of American colonialism and toward the expansion of voting access.
“We are swapping them to prioritize Voting Day as a day off so that our employees can vote,” city manager Eric Wobser told Andy Ouriel of the Sandusky Register. “It’s also because Columbus Day has become controversial and many cities have eliminated it as a holiday.”
Columbus Day occurs each October in recognition of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’s 1492 arrival in the Americas, where he was among the first Europeans to establish long-term settlement and trade.
Less recognized for years were the human consequences of that arrival: Europeans profited off the subjugation and enslavement of the people already living in the Americas, bringing diseases for which their immune systems were unprepared and insisting they convert to Christianity.
Within the United States, a movement to nix Columbus Day or replace it with a day honoring indigenous people began to grow in the ‘90s.
Swapping it for Election Day signifies sympathy with a different movement recently championed on a national level by House Democrats’ wide-reaching HR 1 bill.
Advocates for making Election Day a national holiday argue it would increase voter turnout and empower those who might otherwise be kept from the voting booth by work.
Speaking before the Senate on the same day Sandusky passed its new ordinance, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell dismissed the idea as a “power grab that’s smelling more and more like exactly what it is.”