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St. Louis County makes Election Day a holiday for employees

Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County employees will have Election Day as a paid holiday in November, though a rule change will be needed to make it permanent.

Starting in November, St. Louis County employees will have Election Day off.

The Civil Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to add general elections in November to the calendar of county holidays. The change currently applies to this year’s election only — a more formal rule change making it a permanent holiday is expected to come before the commission later this year.

In a letter to the Civil Service Commission requesting the change, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page called it “an opportunity to remove a barrier that may prevent voters from getting to the polls.”

In a statement, he added: “Making it harder to cast a ballot undermines democracy, and discriminates against the poor and minorities.”

Though the county already offers three hours of paid leave to vote in any election, Page said not everyone works a schedule that allows them to take advantage of the benefit. Additionally, not all employees live in the county.

County acting Director of Administration Karen Aroesty called Page’s request a positive move.

“To enable people to have the time to participate — as we used to say in the old days, exercise the franchise — is important to the strength of our democracy,” she said.

Election Day is a holiday in 19 states.

The general election this year is Nov. 8.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann 

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.