Election Day — usually the first Tuesday after November 1 — is the day people vote to elect federal public officials. Since Election Day falls on a Tuesday, many people are expected to be at work, and some critics believe that may contribute to decreased voter turnout.

While Election Day does not automatically result in a day off from work, many states do allow employees to exercise their right to vote. Laws differ by state, as the time required to vote may be paid in some states and unpaid in others.

According to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the states that do not have laws establishing time allowed to vote are: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Oregon and Washington also do not have laws allowing time off to vote, but those states have vote-by-mail systems, so voting in person is optional.

All other states have the following laws:

  • Alabama — Under Alabama Code § 17-1-5, every employee upon reasonable notice to their employer is permitted by their employer to take necessary time off to vote in any primary or election for which the employee is registered to vote on the day on which the primary or election is held. Time off cannot exceed one hour and time off is not available if there are two hours before or after the employee’s working hours when the polls are open. Time off is unpaid.
  • Alaska — Under Alaska Statute § 15.56.100(b), an employee who has two consecutive hours in which to vote before or after the employee’s regular working shift is considered to have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. Alaska Statute § 15.56.100(a) establishes that an employer commits the offense of refusal to allow employees time off if they refuse to allow an employee time off for the purpose of voting, or if, after allowing the time off, the employer deducts the time from the wages of the employee. Time off is paid.
  • Arizona — Under Arizona Revised Statute § 16-402, employees may take time off from work at the beginning or end of their shift if they do not have three consecutive hours outside of work in which to vote. Application must be made for such absence prior to the day of the election, and the employer can specify the hours the employee may leave. Time off is paid.
  • Arkansas — Under Arkansas Code § 7-1-102, every employer in the state must schedule their employees’ hours on election days so that each employee has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote. Failure or refusal to comply with this statute is punishable by a fine of up to $250. Time off is unpaid.
  • California — Under California Election Code § 14000(a), an employee who does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote can, without loss of pay, take off enough working time that will enable them to vote. California Election Code § 14000(b) establishes that an employee will be paid for up to two hours of time taken off to vote. Time off is paid.
  • Colorado — Under Colorado Revised Statute § 1-7-102, employees entitled to vote in an election are entitled to leave work to vote for a period of two hours during the time the polls are open, and any such absence is not sufficient reason for the discharge of any person from service or employment. The law does not apply to individuals who have three or more hours before or after their working hours in which the polls are open. Time off is paid.
  • Georgia — Under Georgia Code § 21-2-404, every employee, upon reasonable notice to their employer, is permitted to take any necessary time off from work to vote in any primary or election. The time off cannot exceed two hours and the time off for voting is not available if the employee has two hours before or after working hours in which the polls are open. Time off is unpaid.
  • Hawaii — Under Hawaii Revised Statute § 11-95, any employee on the day of an election is entitled to leave work for up to two hours while the polls are open to allow two consecutive hours in which to vote. If an employee takes this time off but then does not vote, the employer can reduce their salary or wages accordingly. Time off is paid.
  • Illinois — Under Title 10 Illinois Compiled Statutes §§ 5/7-42 and 5/17-15, an employee must provide at least one day notice of time off to vote, and an employer is not required to provide it. The employer can decide when an employee may be allowed to leave to vote, but the employer must provide a two-hour absence during work hours when a shift begins less than two hours before polls open and ends less than two hours after polls close. The law applies only to general elections and special elections. Time off is paid.
  • Iowa — Under Iowa Code § 49.109, an employee may leave work on Election Day if they do not have three consecutive hours outside of their working hours in which to vote, as long as they notify their employer before Election Day. An employer can specify the hours during which an employee can leave work to vote. Time off is paid.
  • Kansas — Under Kansas Statute § 25-418, an employer is required to provide time off to vote if the polls are not open for two hours before or after an employee’s shift. Employees are allowed two hours off, and the employer can specify when the employee may leave, as long as it is not during a lunch break. Time off is paid.
  • Kentucky — Under Kentucky Constitution § 148 and Kentucky Revised Statute § 118.035, an employer must allow an employee time off to vote when such time off has been requested at least one day before the election. An employer can specify the time an employee can vote. Time off is unpaid.
  • Maryland — Under Maryland Code § 10-315, employees who do not have two consecutive hours to vote on Election Day are entitled to two hours off work to vote. An employee must provide proof to the employer that they voted. Time off is paid.
  • Massachusetts — Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 149 § 178, only workers in manufacturing, mechanical, or retail establishments are permitted to take time off during the first two hours that polls are open. Time off is unpaid.
  • Minnesota — Under Minnesota Statute § 204C.04, every employee eligible to vote in an election has the right to leave work to vote without penalty to wages or salary. An employer cannot directly or indirectly refuse or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee. Time off is paid.
  • Missouri — Under Missouri Revised Statute § 115.639, an employee can take time off to vote if they do not have three consecutive hours off on Election Day while the polls are open. The employee must notify their employer of their intention to vote before Election Day and the employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off. Time off is paid.
  • Nebraska — Under Nebraska Revised Statute § 32-922, an employee who does not have two consecutive hours off on Election Day during the time that polls are open can take time off to vote if they have notified their employer of their intention to vote. The employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off, and pay cannot be deducted when notice was provided. Time off is paid.
  • Nevada — Under Nevada Revised Statute § 293.463, employees are required to request time off before Election Day and employers can specify the hours that employees can take off. The time allowed to vote is determined by how far the workplace is from the polling place. Employees are given one hour if they work two miles or less from a polling place, two hours if they work between 2 and 10 miles from a polling place, and three hours if they work more than 10 miles from a polling place. Time off is paid.
  • New Mexico — Under New Mexico Statute § 1-12-42, employees may leave work to vote if their shift begins less than two hours after the polls open or ends less than three hours before the polls close. Employers can specify the hours during which employees may vote. Time off is paid.
  • New York — Under New York Election Law § 3-110, an employee must notify an employer of their intent to take time off to vote at least two days before Election Day. An employee is allowed additional unpaid time off to vote when the process requires more than two hours. The employer may specify whether the employee takes the time off at the beginning or end of their shift. Employees are not allowed time off when they have four consecutive hours off between the opening and closing of polls. Time off is paid.
  • North Dakota — Under North Dakota Century Code § 16.1-01-02.1, employers are encouraged to establish a program to allow employees who are qualified to vote time off for the purpose of voting when their regular work schedule conflicts with voting during the time when polls are open. Time off is unpaid.
  • Ohio — Under Ohio Revised Code § 3599.06, an employer cannot discharge or threaten an employee for exercising their right to vote. Time off is typically paid for salaried employees, but is unpaid for hourly or commissioned employees.
  • Oklahoma — Under Oklahoma Statute Title 26 § 7-101, an employee who does not have three consecutive hours off on Election Day while polls are open can take time off to vote if they have notified their employer of their intention to vote. The employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off. Pay cannot be reduced when the employee provides proof that they voted. Time off is paid.
  • South Dakota — Under South Dakota Codified Laws § 12-3-5, employees who do not have two consecutive hours during their time off work are allowed to take time off to vote. Employers can specify the hours that the employee can take off. Time off is paid.
  • Tennessee — Under Tennessee Code § 2-1-106, an employee who does not have three consecutive hours off on Election Day during the time that polls are open can take time off to vote if they have notified their employer of their intention to vote. The employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off. Pay cannot be reduced when the employee provides proof that they voted. Time off is paid.
  • Texas — Under Texas Election Code § 276.004, time off for voting is required when an employee does not have two consecutive hours to vote during non-working hours. Time off is paid.
  • Utah — Under Utah Code § 20A-3-103, employees who have less than three non-work hours to vote are allowed to take time off to vote. Leave must be requested before Election Day. Time off is paid.
  • West Virginia — Under West Virginia Code § 3-1-42, an employee who does not have three consecutive hours off on Election Day while polls are open can take time off to vote if they have notified their employer of their intention to vote at least three days before Election Day. The employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off in certain situations. Time off is paid.
  • Wisconsin — Under Wisconsin Statute § 6.76, an employee is entitled to three consecutive hours off on Election Day during the time that polls are open. The employer can specify the hours that the employee can take off in certain situations. An employee should provide an employer at least one day notice of the intention to vote. Time off is unpaid.
  • Wyoming — Under Wyoming Statute § 22-2-111, an employee who does not have three consecutive hours off on Election Day during the time that polls are open can take time off to vote. Time off is paid.

In Puerto Rico, Election Day is a legal holiday, and most employees typically have the day off work. Any employers operating a business on Election Day must allow employees to go to the polls between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Note: This information is derived from publicly available sources, but not guaranteed. This is not legal advice.

The post Workplace rights: Time off to vote guaranteed by these states appeared first on AvvoStories.

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