Will New Canaan lead the way?

 

The following was published as an op-ed in the New Canaan Advertiser.

What state and local governments do on a daily basis rarely makes headlines, even in the state or town in which they happen. We are much more likely to follow a celebrity update, a restaurant review or the latest political horserace story. But good government in policy and practice is what I do, so today is a big day to me.

In our nation’s heartland, Sandusky, Ohio, perhaps best known for being the home of Cedar Point Amusement Park, took a small but important step forward in the fight against voter suppression.

We don’t think of the Midwest, or the Northeast for that matter, as being centers of efforts to keep as many people as possible from voting, and yet in both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania leading Republican politicians have been recorded talking about their efforts to reduce the number of people who can register and can vote.

So Sandusky, which can’t change voter registration laws, in the heart of Republican Ohio, voted to make a change — Columbus Day will no longer be a city holiday. Instead, Election Day will be a day off to encourage and support maximum voter participation. As a fiscal conservative but social liberal, I think that anything that supports any and all Americans’ ability to register and to vote is a big deal.

If a small town on the shores of Lake Erie, about the same size as New Canaan, can take such a step, why can’t we? How about if New Canaan’s elected leaders became the first town officials in Connecticut to follow suit? If our representatives in Hartford want to take steps to make Connecticut a leader in making it easier for all Nutmeggers to get out (or stay in) and vote, what if we show them a good first step?