Should employers provide time off to vote?

Should employers provide time off to vote?

Elyssa Duncan
Community Specialist
August 14, 2020
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Though 2020 has been a chaotic whirlwind, it’s hard to believe that presidential elections are just a few months away. Unfortunately for many working Americans, finding time to hit the polls is more difficult than you would hope. Though some states have voter-leave laws, there is no federal law mandating time off for registered voters, and Election Day is not recognized as a federal holiday like it is in some other countries.

That raises a big question for a lot of Americans - should employers provide time off to vote?? Many people agree, YES.

Why should employers provide time off?

In the United States, many citizens don’t vote simply because they don’t have the bandwidth to do so. Whether it be because of child care responsibilities, transportation difficulties, or inability to get time off from work, many Americans face difficulties when it comes to showing up on election day. According to VOTE, 4 in 10 eligible voters did not show up to the polls in the 2016 elections, and voter turnout was also historically lower for midterm elections this year.

By allowing eligible voters to be excused from work, it increases the chances of otherwise muted voices to be heard. It is a citizen’s right, and duty, to vote - they should be allowed every opportunity to do so!

Why YOUR vote matters

The 2020 election is a crucial opportunity to speak out and take action. Voting offers the ability for you to leverage your voice and elect leaders that will stand for your community and country’s best interests. Creating change for a better, more equal world starts with leaders in Congress and the White House who will champion these pressing, global issues.

Your vote has the power to make a global impact. Don’t throw away that right!

A colleague of mine, Jon-Paul shared this resource recently, and I wanted to highlight it here! It’s a chart that shows when and how to vote in all 50 states. Take a look!

Your election day time off rights by state

It’s important to know your voting rights when it comes to taking off time from work on election day. Here is a full list breakdown of whether or not states offer time off, along with the details surrounding the time off.

STATETIME OFF REQUIRED?PAID / UNPAIDADVANCE NOTICE REQUIRED?
AlabamaYes - 1 hourUnpaidYes - "Reasonable notice"
AlaskaYes - Not specifiedPaidNo
ArizonaYes - 3 hoursPaidYes - 1 day prior to election
ArkansasYes - Not specifiedUnpaidNo
CaliforniaYes - 2 hoursPaidYes - 2 days prior to election
ColoradoYes - 3 hoursPaidNo
ConnecticutNo----
DelawareNo----
FloridaNo----
GeorgiaYes - 2 hoursUnpaidYes - "Reasonable notice"
HawaiiYes - 2 hoursPaidNo
IdahoNo----
IllinoisYes - 2 hoursPaidYes - 1 day prior to election
IndianaNo
IowaYes - 3 hoursPaidYes - in writing prior to election
KansasYes - 2 hoursPaidNo
KentuckyYes - 4 hoursUnpaidYes - 1 day prior to election
LouisianaNo----
MaineNo----
MarylandYes - 2 hoursPaidYes
MassachusettsYes - 2 hoursUnpaidYes
MichiganNo----
MinnesotaYesPaidNo
MississippiNo----
MissouriYes - 3 hoursPaidYes - "Reasonable notice"
MontanaNo----
NebraskaYes - 2 hoursPaidYes - "Reasonable notice"
NevadaYes - UnspecifiedPaidYes - "Reasonable notice"
New HampshireNo----
New JerseyNo----
New MexicoYes - 2 hoursPaidNo
New YorkYes - UnspecifiedPaid up to 2 hoursYes - 10 days prior to election
North CarolinaNo----
North DakotaYes - UnspecifiedUnpaidNo
OhioYes - "Reasonable time"Paid for salary employeesNo
OklahomaYes - 2 hoursPaidYes - 1 day prior to election
OregonNo----
PennsylvaniaNo----
Rhode IslandNo----
South CarolinaNo----
South DakotaYes - 2 hoursPaidNo
TennesseeYes - 3 hoursPaidYes - 1 day prior to election
TexasYes - UnspecifiedPaidNo
UtahYes - 2 hoursPaidYes - Prior to election
VermontNo----
VirginiaNo----
WashingtonNo----
West VirginiaYes - 3 hoursPaidYes - Written notice 3 days prior to election
WisconsinYes - 3 hoursUnpaidYes - Prior to election
WyomingYes - 1 hourPaidNo

What to do if your state doesn’t mandate time off for voters

  • Ask anyway
    You should always check with your employer to see if they will provide you with time off as a courtesy. Chances are, your boss will be willing to work with you. Try and arrange a time to visit the polls early in the morning before work, during lunchtime, or towards the end of your work day. This way, you are disrupting the least amount of time that you are on the clock.

  • See if your state offers an early voting period
    Some states have what’s called an “early voting period,” where you can vote on a weekend or an earlier time that is more convenient for you.

  • Check if you eligible for mail-in absentee ballot
    While each state has mail-in voting, some allow you to take part only in certain circumstances. Most states require an excuse for voting by mail. But, due to the Coronavirus, some states are giving all voters an excuse to vote by mail for certain elections. Your state may automatically send you an absentee ballot or provide a form to fill out to request one.


Do you think employers should be required to provide time off for voters? Why or why not?

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Lenin Pina
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Outstanding piece of information here @Elyssa Duncan . I actually had no idea my state extended a voting time off grace period. Go to know moving forward.

The Voter registration verification tool is also very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to put all this awesome information together and sharing it with the community.

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Lauren Brucato
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yes, i think so. voting is such a critical part of our democracy, and sometimes it can be hard for people to actually fit in voting around work, so i think companies should provide time off

10w
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Ford Simpson
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No need,polls are open before work and won't close if you are in line to vote after work.

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Beth Clymer
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I am a big supporter of early voting and/or vote by mail so that people can vote on a schedule that works for their life. Poll lines can be long, and many people - esp with young kids - have to get right home after a long day at work. I definitely think companies should offer time off to vote in states where mail in voting is not available. And in states that offer early voting, they should encourage workers to do it not on election day, because it's so much quicker!

10w
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Melony Bradley
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Yes, absolutely! All US citizens should he given time off to vote in Presidential elections.

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Kay Glenn
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Congress should come to a decision and pass the stimulus package so that all Americans can have some relief and a stimulus package including sending stimulus money should be sent to All Americans because all Americans are suffering and need help in this pandemic

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Heath Alva
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I've been fortunate to work for places that make voting a priority for its employees. While the polls may be open before and after work , there is a lot of other responsibilities that many workers have during the day that will prevent them from being able to take the necessary time to exercise their right to vote. I do like the idea that Election Day is a national holiday that we as a nation have off to participate in our democracy. We celebrate our independence with cookouts and fireworks, why not as a country celebrate the democracy that our country fought for by participating in the most direct way by voting.

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joyce you
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We have polls open 12 hours on election day; opportunities to vote by absentee ballot; in Georgia, our county elections office is open for voting 2-3 WEEKS in advance of election day. If folks don't take advantage of those times, why should their employer reward them with time off? Patriotic of them, but shouldn't be demanded. (BTW, if you are given an extended break to go vote and it takes longer than the time allotted [esp. during the lunch hour rush], you can ask for a form at your polling place that shows your employer you were there!)

Lines in a couple of big cities here that were stressfully long received national attention...but what was not reported was the basic reason: many folks who showed up to vote that last day hadn't bothered to find out what/who was on the ballot! They didn't come prepared to make all the (many) choices involved, thereby slowing lines down by having to slog through all the reading material, the proposed referendums offered by their party and different state and local officials being voted upon! Yes, additional polling places in big cities would relieve some of that....but you'd be surprised at how many folks show up without a clue...they just want their party, though they don't know who's running for their party or what input their party is asking for regarding future laws...or even if it's their party's election! Another slow-down: folks in line at the wrong precinct, thinking that they can just vote where they're closest at the moment or where they've moved to, without changing address with the elections office=more paperwork involved in processing their vote provisionally on site. In Georgia, as folks adjust to the new 2-step voting process (electronic plus back-up paper ballot ) it should go more smoothly, also; but neither new- machine problems nor "poor training" are to blame for those long lines!

All told, there already are plenty of opportunities to vote without putting another burden on employers. (I'm not one...just a poll/precinct officer for 20 years' worth of elections.)

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