AUGUSTA — Lawmakers will consider a proposal this session to make Election Day a state holiday.

“We should have a day where we really celebrate our democracy,” said Rep. Ben Collings, a Portland Democrat.

Supporters of the idea, which has been picking up steam for years, say that more people would have a chance to vote if fewer had to go to work.

Though past efforts to make Election Day a holiday flopped, there is some momentum behind it now, not just in Maine but across the country.

At least seven other states already include Election Day among their holidays, a long tradition in most of them, including New Hampshire. But many more states are considering the idea, including California, Virginia and Idaho.

The U.S. House is also considering a measure that would declare Election Day a national holiday. It is among the provisions in HR 1, a bill Democrats say would bring sweeping reform to American elections and campaigns.


It isn’t clear, however, whether making Election Day a holiday would bolster turnout at the polls.

The U.S. Census Bureau, in its analysis of the 2016 election, found that 15 percent of those who didn’t cast a ballot cited a lack of time or scheduling conflicts as the cause.

Forty percent of the non-voters said they either weren’t interested or didn’t like any of the candidates so they chose to stay away from the polls.

Other reasons given to census questions were illness, absence from town, trouble with voter registration or just plain forgetting about the election.

Collings said he’d like to see towns and cities making an effort to promote voting as part of a new Election Day holiday. Local officials could call attention to the sacrifices of earlier generations to secure the right to vote for African-Americans, women and Native Americans, among others.

No public hearing, the first step on the road to becoming law, was yet scheduled for the bill.

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