D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), with the support of Chair Phil Mendelson and most of the council, recently introduced legislation to guarantee at least two hours of paid leave for eligible voters during citywide elections.
The Paid Leave to Vote Amendment Act of 2018, introduced Nov. 20, would also make it unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain or deny any attempt to exercise the right to take such leave, or to discriminate against a voter for taking leave to vote.
“The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, yet the District does not have any protections in place for residents who need to take leave in order to vote,” Cheh said. “Any number of factors, such as one’s commute, child care or work requirements, or long lines from the morning or evening voter rush, can make it unnecessarily difficult for working residents to cast their ballot. There is more we can do to ensure that all eligible voters are able to engage in this important civic duty, and guaranteeing leave is one way we can remove some of the practical barriers to higher voter participation.”
If the legislation passes, D.C. will join 20 states, including Maryland, New York and Texas, that have passed laws to guarantee paid leave to voters.