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Push to give Bibb County employees paid time off to vote tabled

County commissioners split on two proposals to give county employees time off to go and vote.

MACON, Ga. — Bibb County commissioner Virgil Watkins wants to give county employees a day off for Election Day. He tried two different pieces of legislation to get them time off, but they were tabled weeks ago. 

Maggie Cole placed her vote early at the Board of Elections. 

"Voting is very important to me," said Cole. 

Her vote was for a sales tax for the school system.

"The children are our future. We're over the hill now and the kids that are coming up now are going to be the ones to run the county," said Cole. 

She says she used to work at Robins Air Force Base where she got two hours off on election day to vote.

Commissioner Virgil Watkins is sponsoring two ideas to make sure county employees would have time to vote.

"The ESPLOST is going on right now. Early voting exists. 36 people took advantage of it yesterday, but there is an issue of voter turnout here in this county. Our resident are not as civically engaged as they could be or should be," said Watkins. 

One proposal would give them a full day off each year civil engagement or wellness. 

The second proposal gives them a paid holiday for election day.

Commissioner Valerie Wynn and Mallory Jones voted against discussing Watkins' proposal to make election day a paid holiday for Bibb County employees.

Commissioner Larry Schlesinger voted against a motion to take the proposal regarding the civic engagement half-day off of the table. 

The county says if they pay county employee salaries for a full day of work, it costs the county about $400,000. 

Commissioner Valerie Wynn says the proposal is not an appropriate or necessary use of taxpayer money.

"Election day is a day that's high-stress for employees, particularly ones that don't live in the area," said Watkins. 

Cole, a taxpayer, says for her, the money is worth it if it makes more people vote.

To take Watkins' plan off the table, he'd need three votes from members of the committee where he presented it and then 5 votes from the full commission to pass.

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