Q: Bernie Sanders believes that election day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the opportunity to vote. Indeed, back in 2015 he introduced a bill that would make the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during even-numbered years a holiday called “Democracy Day.” This week, Bernie again tweeted about it. What is California’s take on this?
A: Every day is Democracy Day in California! While not an official holiday, in California, pursuant to California Election Code section 14000, employees are eligible for two hours of paid time off for the purposes of voting ONLY IF they do not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Employers may require the employee vote at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift to limit disruption. Employees must give their employees at least three days notice that they want to take advantage of the law.
The Election Code also requires that at least ten days before every state wide election, an employer post a notice to employees advising them of their right to time off under this law. The notice can be found here – http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/time-vote-notices/. Many of the standard employee notification posters purchased from the Chamber of Commerce and like organizations already contain this notice.
I wonder, if Democracy Day became law, would voting increase or decrease? If you throw in California’s new paid sick leave – employees (with election day flu) could make a nice little four-day weekend of it and hit the coast instead of the polls. And, as turkey and burgers are already taken, I wonder what would become the traditional Democracy Day meal? Perhaps, quinoa and kale…
This Legal Update / Bulletin is for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The hypothetical question is posed to illustrate a point and does not contemplate all potential legal considerations This update should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.