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Could Election Day Become a Holiday in California?

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Federal Election Day could become a holiday in California, and to get the process going, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that Roy Benson, the proponent of a new initiative, can begin collecting petition signatures for his measure.Although our state Elections Code (Section 14000) stipulates that employees must be granted two hours of paid time, at the start or end of their shift, in order to go vote, Benson believes that making the day a holiday will find more people at the polls. In February, Benson posted to a Facebook group set up to support his initiative: "Election Day a public Holiday - to increase voter turnout, confidence in our election process, a step towards 'in Order to form a more perfect Union.'"

Here's the text of Benson's proposed initiative right now as prepared by the Attorney General:

ELECTION DAY HOLIDAY. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Establishes an Election Day state holiday as the Tuesday following the first Monday in November during even-numbered years. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state costs once every two years of probably less than $20 million. (11-0001.)

Bowen's office describes the steps Benson must take to move forward:

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[Benson] must collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters - the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election - in order to qualify it for the ballot. The proponent has 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by September 1, 2011.

Will you be among those signing on to support Benson and the Election Day holiday in California?