Photo Credit: Morgan Wigmore
Sandusky, Ohio, probably best known for its Cedar Point Amusement Park, has become the latest in a number of Ohio cities to exchange Election Day for Columbus Day. On January 28th, 2019, the new rule, which goes into effect this year, was voted on in a meeting by city officials.
What began as a small story in the Sandusky Register is now seeing national attention. On February 15th, City Manager Eric Wobser said he’s amazed that their small city is seeing so much national coverage. “We are swapping them to prioritize Voting Day and also because Columbus Day has become so controversial,” said Wobser, adding “many cities have eliminated Columbus Day and we are affirming our city’s values.” Wobser stated that since the ruling he and other officials have been interviewed by NPR, CNN, and The Washington Post.
“What better way to celebrate the value of our employees and citizens than by removing barriers for them to participate in the greatest of American innovations, our democracy.” – The City of Sandusky, Facebook
A spokesperson for the city of Sandusky stated that the idea was brought to them in 2014 by union leaders during contract negotiations, however, it took the city until this year to develop a viable option for creating a national holiday out of Election Day by exchanging the hours with those on Columbus Day. Both union groups and local tribal leaders helped make the initiative popular among the populace, who were hesitant to exchange a three day weekend for a Tuesday off. In the end, city officials came to an agreement during an open door meeting, putting the time directly into the hands of the people. “What better way to celebrate the value of our employees and citizens” reads a post on the City of Sandusky’s Facebook Page, “than by removing barriers for them to participate in the greatest of American innovations, our democracy.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has advocated for making the change nationally, and polls conducted locally in Seattle show a majority in favor of such a change. In 2014, Seattle began celebrating Indigenous People’s Day, one of many major cities to do so since South Dakota adopted the holiday in 1990. Washington State does not officially recognize Columbus Day, however, very few groups in Washington have sought to make Election Day a holiday.