SACRAMENTO—Legislation authored by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) to make Election Day a holiday in California passed the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting by a vote of 5-2. 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.”
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.
“Creating greater access and opportunity for voting is key to transforming our democracy and electing bold environmental leaders,” said California League of Conservation Voters CEO, Mary Creasman. “We are seeing more than ever that who is in office matters, and with 12 short years to address increasing drought, wildfires, flooding, and water and air quality, providing working people a day off to vote is a crucial step to make our voices heard.”
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.
AB 177 is supported by the California League of Conservation Voters, the ACLU, AFSCME, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, Asian Law Alliance, California Professional Firefighters, California School Employees Association, and others.
Assembly Bill 177 now heads to the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.