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Review Your State Time-Off-to-Vote Laws Before Tuesday!

Date: 11.3.2006

With Election Day on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, it is a good time for employers to review their policies and practices regarding employee time off to vote and related issues. Thirty-one states and Puerto Rico obligate employers to provide employees time off to vote if certain prerequisites are met, with civil and/or criminal penalties for non-compliance. Some of these jurisdictions require such time to be paid for non-exempt employees and/or require employers to post notices advising employees of their rights.

The chart below summarizes state time-off-to-vote laws and what employers must do to comply. Local law also should be consulted. For specific questions, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work. table.tblStates td{ font-family : Verdana, Geneva, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; border:1px solid #CCCCCC; border-collapse: collapse; padding:5px 5px 5px 5px; font-size : 83%; } table.tblStates{ border: 1px solid #CCCCCC; }

Jurisdiction Covered Individuals Potential Entitlement Condition Precedents Must Time Be Paid?
Alabama Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 1 hour to vote, unless the employee has 2 hours available before or 1 hour after work to vote. Employee must provide reasonable notice of intent to vote. No express provision.
Alaska Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 consecutive hours to vote, unless the employee has 2 consecutive nonworking hours to vote. No express provisions. Yes
Arizona Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 3 consecutive hours to vote, unless the employee has 3 consecutive nonworking hours to vote. Employee must make an application to vote. Yes
Arkansas Any voter Employer must schedule work hours in a manner that allows all employees to vote in all elections. No express provisions. No express provision.
California Any voter Eligible voter is allowed enough time at the start or end of work to vote in a statewide election, when added to free time during voting hours. Employee must make an application to vote at least 2 days before election. Yes, but limited to 2 hours.
Colorado Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote, unless polls are open during 3 nonworking hours. State personnel system employees receive 2 hours administrative leave. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes, but limited to 2 hours for hourly workers, with no penalties or deductions.
Georgia Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 2 hours in any municipal, county, state, or federal primary or general election, unless the employee has 2 nonworking hours to vote. Employee must make an application to vote with reasonable notice. No
Hawaii Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote, excluding lunch or rest periods, unless polls are open during 2 nonworking hours. No express provisions. Yes, if vote is cast. Voter's receipt constitutes proof.
Illinois Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote while polls are open.. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes
Iowa Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 3 voting hours when polls are open, unless the employee has 3 consecutive nonworking hours when polls are open to vote. Employee must make a written application to vote before voting day Yes
Kansas Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 consecutive hours to vote while polls are open. If polls open before or after work, then employee is allowed enough time, when added to free time, to vote, up to 2 hours. No express provisions. Yes
Kentucky Any voter Eligible voter is allowed reasonable time to vote, but not less than 4 hours while polls are open. Employees are also allowed up to 4 hours to request an application or execute an absentee ballot, on day appearing before clerk, during business hours. Employee must make an application to vote. No
Maryland Any employee who claims to be a registered voter. Eligible voter is allowed up to 2 hours to cast a ballot, unless the employee has 2 continuous nonworking hours to vote. No express provisions. Yes, only if the employee provides proof (see State Board prescribed form) that he or she voted or attempted to vote.
Massachusetts Any voter employed in manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile businesses. Eligible voter is allowed time off during the first 2 hours that polls are open. Employee must make an application to vote. No
Minnesota Any voter Eligible voter is entitled to "sufficient" time to vote. The law does not specify the amount of time employees must be granted. No express provisions. Yes
Missouri Any voter Eligible voter is entitled to 3 hours to vote, unless polls are open during 3 successive nonworking hours. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes, if vote is cast.
Nebraska Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 2 hours to participate in all elections. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes, if application is made before election day
Nevada Any voter Eligible voter is allowed "sufficient time" to vote, unless "sufficient time" exists during nonworking hours. Specifically, the employee must be granted 1 to 3 hours to vote depending on poll's distances as follows:
  • 1 hour if the distance between the voter's place of employment and polling place is two miles or less;
  • 2 hours if the distance is from two to 10 miles; and
  • 3 hours if the distance is more than 10 miles.
Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes
New Mexico Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote, unless work begins 2 hours after polls open or ends 3 hours before polls close. No express provisions. No express provision, but Attorneys General have construed law to require pay, limited to 2 hours for hourly paid workers, except where workday ends more than 3 hours before polls close and there is no loss of pay.
New York Any voter Eligible voter allowed up to 2 hours to vote in any election, unless "sufficient time" exists during nonworking hours; 4 consecutive nonworking hours while polls are open is "sufficient." Employee must make an application to vote 2-10 work days before election day. Yes, limited to 2 hours.
North Dakota Any voter Employers are encouraged to provide time off to vote when employee's regular work schedule conflicts with times that polls are open. No express provisions. No express provision.
Ohio Any voter Eligible voter is entitled to reasonable time to vote (amount not specified). No express provisions. Only salaried employees must be paid.
Oklahoma Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 2 hours to vote. Employers located too far from the polls for employees to vote within 2 hours must grant sufficient time for employees to travel to and from the polls and to vote. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes, if vote is cast.
Puerto Rico Any voter Election day is a legal holiday. Employees must be allowed to vote between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.. No express provisions. No
South Dakota Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote, unless polls are open during 2 consecutive nonworking hours. No express provisions. Yes
Tennessee Any voter Eligible voter must be allowed reasonable time to vote up to 3 hours, unless polls in the county where the employee is a resident are open 3 hours before or after work. Employee must make an application to vote prior to noon the day before the election. Yes
Texas Any voter Amount not specified. Eligible voter is not entitled to any time off if the polls are open during 2 consecutive non-working hours. No express provisions. Yes
Utah Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 2 hours to vote, unless polls are open during 3 or more nonworking hours. Employee must make an application to vote before voting day. Yes
Washington Any voter If an employee has insufficient time to secure an absentee ballot because the employer did not inform him or her about the work schedule for a primary or election day, the employer must allow the employee sufficient time off to vote. An employer must grant the employee up to 2 hours of leave time, unless the employee has 2 hours of nonworking time to vote. Meals and rest periods cannot be counted as non-work time for voting purposes. No express provisions. Yes
West Virginia Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 3 hours while polls are open. Employee must make written application 3 days prior to election day. Yes, unless employee has 3 hours of nonworking time available to vote and fails to vote during such time.
Wisconsin Any voter Eligible voter is allowed up to 3 consecutive hours to vote while polls are open. Employee must make an application to vote before election day. No
Wyoming Any voter Eligible voter is allowed 1 hour, unless polls are open during 3 or more consecutive non-working hours. No express provisions. Yes, if vote is cast.

Jackson Lewis associate Liane Z. Chinwalla assisted in the preparation of this article.