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.
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!
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!
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.
|STATE||TIME OFF REQUIRED?||PAID / UNPAID||ADVANCE NOTICE REQUIRED?|
|Alabama||Yes - 1 hour||Unpaid||Yes - "Reasonable notice"|
|Alaska||Yes - Not specified||Paid||No|
|Arizona||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||Yes - 1 day prior to election|
|Arkansas||Yes - Not specified||Unpaid||No|
|California||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes - 2 days prior to election|
|Colorado||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||No|
|Georgia||Yes - 2 hours||Unpaid||Yes - "Reasonable notice"|
|Hawaii||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||No|
|Illinois||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes - 1 day prior to election|
|Iowa||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||Yes - in writing prior to election|
|Kansas||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||No|
|Kentucky||Yes - 4 hours||Unpaid||Yes - 1 day prior to election|
|Maryland||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes|
|Massachusetts||Yes - 2 hours||Unpaid||Yes|
|Missouri||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||Yes - "Reasonable notice"|
|Nebraska||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes - "Reasonable notice"|
|Nevada||Yes - Unspecified||Paid||Yes - "Reasonable notice"|
|New Mexico||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||No|
|New York||Yes - Unspecified||Paid up to 2 hours||Yes - 10 days prior to election|
|North Dakota||Yes - Unspecified||Unpaid||No|
|Ohio||Yes - "Reasonable time"||Paid for salary employees||No|
|Oklahoma||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes - 1 day prior to election|
|South Dakota||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||No|
|Tennessee||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||Yes - 1 day prior to election|
|Texas||Yes - Unspecified||Paid||No|
|Utah||Yes - 2 hours||Paid||Yes - Prior to election|
|West Virginia||Yes - 3 hours||Paid||Yes - Written notice 3 days prior to election|
|Wisconsin||Yes - 3 hours||Unpaid||Yes - Prior to election|
|Wyoming||Yes - 1 hour||Paid||No|
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.