- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2020

Virginia moved closer Thursday toward eliminating a century-old state holiday honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

The Virginia House of Delegates voted 55 to 42 in favor of scrapping Lee-Jackson Day and recognizing Election Day as an official state holiday instead.

Virginia state senators passed an identical bill last month by a vote of 22 to 18, and Gov. Ralph Northam has indicated he is inclined to sign the effort into law.

“Making Election Day a holiday serves a much more honorable purpose in this day and age than celebrating the ghosts of Virginia’s Confederate past,” Delegate Joe Lindsey, a Democrat representing Norfolk and the House bill’s sponsor, said in a statement, several news outlets reported.

Virginia state law currently describes Lee and Jackson as “defenders of causes” and designates the Friday preceding the third Monday in January in their honor.

Both the House and Senate bills call for removes Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday and in its place recognizing Election Day on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Mr. Northam, a Democrat who previously served in the Virginia state Senate, expressed his support for the swap during his latest State of the Commonwealth address last month.

“We need to make it easier to vote, not harder,” Mr. Northam said. “So we should do two things. One, no excuses required to vote absentee. The government shouldn’t have to OK your reason for needing to vote early. And then, we need to make Election Day a holiday. We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds a week from Friday. It commemorates a lost cause. It’s time to move on.”

Lee and Jackson both were born and died in Virginia, which briefly served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Virginia first commemorated Lee with a state holiday in 1899, and Jackson has been recognized on the same date since 1904.

The state previously recognized Election Day as an official holiday in 1989.

As of January, Virginia Democrats have control of both the governor’s office and state legislature for the first time in more than 20 years.

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