LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Backers of an initiative that would make Election Day a holiday were given approval to begin gathering signatures today by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Backers must collect valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters by Sept. 1 to qualify for the ballot.

Initiative proponent Roy Benson said making Election Day for presidential and gubernatorial elections a holiday would boost voter turnout.

Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor and Director of Finance Ana J. Matosantos said the measure would result in increased costs to state government of probably less than $20 million once every two years for extra pay for state employees required to work on a holiday.