Many Californians would no longer have to worry about squeezing a trip to the polls into their working day if a bill proposed by a Silicon Valley lawmaker becomes law. Assembly Bill 674, authored by Evan Low, D-Cupertino, would make November elections on even years a holiday for schools and state workers as a way to boost voter turnout. Private businesses would not be required to close, but Low said he hoped many would choose to give their employees the day off. “I think this will ensure that more people will be able to participate in the electoral process,” Low said in an interview Thursday.
In November, 75 percent of registered voters and 58.7 percent of Californians eligible to vote participated, according to data from the California Secretary of State‘s Office. The numbers were far lower for the general election held in 2014, where just 42 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also has called for a national holiday on those even-numbered general election years. “We should not be satisfied with a `democracy’ in which more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote and some 80 percent of young people and low-income Americans fail to vote,” he said in a news release announcing the 2015 “Democracy Day” bill, which did not pass.