SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) has re-introduced a bill to make Election Day a holiday in California. Assembly Bill 177 would establish a state holiday on the first Tuesday in November of each statewide or national election year.
“When less than half of the electorate shows up to vote, our democracy suffers,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “Establishing an Election Day Holiday will demonstrate California’s strong and unwavering commitment to an engaged electorate and ensure more Californians have the opportunity to vote.”
“We need to continue to make voting as easy as possible and this is one way to do it,” added Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). “I’m looking forward to working with Assemblymember Low on finding a cost-effective way to make the ballot box more accessible.”
In 2014, California saw historically low voter turnout, with just 25% of registered voters participating in the primary, and just 42% of registered voters participating in the general election. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, work and school conflicts were the most common reason cited by eligible voters who did not vote in 2014.
Making Election Day a holiday will ensure more people are able to participate in the electoral process by giving them the time and opportunity to vote. This is especially important to low-income voters because it removes financial roadblocks that keep them from taking unpaid time-off to vote, and will ultimately help engage more voters. While current state law allows Californians to take up to two hours off from work, without loss of pay, to cast a ballot, the state can do more to help facilitate greater voter participation.
Assembly Bill 177 will be heard in the Assembly Elections Committee over the next few months.