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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Bill Would End Election Day Holiday

Voters in Clinton, Montana, cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch
UM School of Journalism
A bill introduced in Montana’s House of Representatives would remove Election day as a state holiday.";

A bill introduced in Montana’s House of Representatives would remove Election Day as a state holiday.

On Thursday, Republican Greg Hertz (R), HD-11 told lawmakers in the Committee on State Administration that he was approached by several of his constituents in Polson about why some people got Election Day off from work, while others didn’t.

“I said, well it’s a state holiday, I’m not really sure," Hertz said. "So I decided to bring the bill and let's have the discussion.”

Hertz says the holiday makes it a little easier for state and county employees to go out and vote, but people who don’t work for local government don’t get that same benefit. Although, he added that absentee voting allows people to vote whenever they have time.

Linda Stoll with the Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders and Election Administrators says county officials need government employee volunteers to help run polls. She testified against the bill.

“It takes lots of people to hold a polling place election," Stoll said. "Local county election administrators rely on the city and county people who have that day off.”

Testimony was also given during the hearing that removing Election Day as a state holiday would disenfranchise some voters, and lead to lower voter turnout.

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Greg Hertz, says this bill would not make it easier for any particular political party to bring their voting base out to the polls.

No one besides Hertz testified in support of the bill.

Fourteen states observer Election Day as a state holiday.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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