California attempts Saturday voting

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July 25, 2013

By Kristen Mathews

California

On May 21, 2013, Los Angeles held their mayoral election, but only 23.3% of registered voters came out to cast their ballots. This turnout set the record for the lowest election participation in 100 years.[1]

Sen. Leland Yee believes this is the result of the busy schedules of voters and the inconvenience of Tuesday being the only option for in person voting. Throughout the United States people have been casting their ballots on Tuesday for 150 years, but Yee believes that introducing a Saturday option could greatly increase vote turnout.[2]

The approved Senate Bill 637 would require a polling place to be open at least one Saturday within 29 days before the election. Alongside 32 states who offer in person early voting, 25 California counties already have some form of alternate voting times in place. Currently voters who are unable to make it to a polling place on Tuesday are able to vote absentee by mail.[3]

The idea behind Saturday voting is not new to California. A pilot program for weekend voting was planned for 2010 but was unable to start due to lack of funding.[2] The program, Proposition I, passed in the Fall of 2010 after a successful "Why Tuesday" campaign, but was unable to start due to the required $2.4 million price tag.[4]


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