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Your Rights State Laws on Voting Rights

Clark Law Group

I'm scheduled to work on Election Day. Do I have a right to take time off from work to vote?

Not necessarily. Depending on where you live, the answer may be "yes, definitely," "no, not really," or "it depends." This is an area of the law dealt with on a state-by-state basis, even during the national presidential elections held every four years. So your right to vote during work time depends on what your state law says.

In some states, the law designates a specific amount of time that workers must be allowed off to vote. This time off may be paid or unpaid. Some states require your employer to give you time off only if you will not have enough time to vote before or after work, while the polls are open. Most but not all states prevent your employer from firing or disciplining you because you take time off to vote. In some states, if you do not actually vote even though you took time off for that purpose, your employer can dock your pay for the hours off, so save your receipt or other proof of voting in case you're later questioned.

How do I take advantage of the law in my state to vote during work hours on Election Day?

While the procedures vary from state to state, many states require that you give your employer advance notice of your intention to vote, or you cannot rely on the law's protections. It's a good idea anyway, so that you and your employer can make arrangements for coverage while you're away from work. Even if your state does not have a law, you may find your employer will support your efforts to vote. If there are no protections in your state, and your employer will not accommodate your need to vote, before giving up and not voting, be sure to find out your state's laws on absentee or early voting. That may be an option if there is absolutely no way you can be away from work and still vote.

I want to volunteer or work at the polls on Election Day. Can my employer stop me from doing that?

Even if your state has a law allowing you to vote, the time off you're permitted is generally limited to a few hours--the time it takes most people to vote--rather than the entire day. Your employer may allow you to use a vacation day or personal leave for that purpose, but if you're planning to do this, it's recommended that you give advance warning. Your employer might not be so supportive of its employees' civic participation in the future if everyone just calls in sick or takes leave that day. Use of sick leave and vacation leave are generally within your employer's discretion to approve or deny. Employees generally do not have a legal right to take leave whenever they want without advance notice or permission, even if leave has been accrued, so make sure your employer is on board before you miss work.

Is my employer required to post a notice about employees' right to vote?

Few states (California is one exception) require employers to post anything about how to take advantage of the legal right to time off to vote. So spread the word by using our "e-mail this page" feature, so that all your friends understand their rights as well.

What happens if I am denied the right to vote because my employer broke the law?

Twelve of the 30 states with laws allowing time off to vote impose penalties if an employer keeps workers from exercising their right to vote. While the penalties in some of the states that have them can be quite severe, in the remaining 18 states with laws, and the 20 states without laws, the penalties are non-existent.

In New York and Colorado, companies essentially face a corporate death sentence if they violate the time-off-to-vote law. They could lose their corporate charter if they bar a worker from voting. In Arizona, Missouri and Kansas, supervisors face fines of up to $2,500 if they block someone from voting. In Arizona, the company itself can be fined as much as $20,000.

Realistically, while your employer may not ultimately face much punishment, if you live in a state with legal protections (or even if you don't), most employers will want to promote civic involvement and maintain employee morale by allowing their workers to vote. If word gets out that a particular company prevents its employees from voting, the company faces a potential public relations problem, which may be more of a concern than any fine a government agency might impose.

Report Your Employer's Voting Policies

What is the law in my state?

Select your state from the map below or from this list.

United States map Washington Oregon Idaho Montana North Dakota Nevada Utah Arizona California New Mexico Colorado Wyoming South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Texas Oklahoma Louisiana Mississippi Arkansas Alabama Tennessee Missouri Iowa Minnesota Wisconsin Michigan Illinois Indiana Florida Georgia South Carolina North Carolina Virginia Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania New York Vermont Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Maine New Hampshire District of Columbia Alaska Hawaii Puerto Rico




Learn More About Time Off to Vote

Return to Voting Rights information


Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Alabama
Alabama Act 2006-545
Yes. One hour. If the hours of work of the employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least one hour prior to the closing of the polls. Law does not specify, so probably unpaid. Yes; "reasonable notice." No. No enforcement method specified in act.
Alaska
Alaska Stat. §15.56.100
Yes, amount not specified Not required if employee has two consecutive hours available while polls are open at beginning or end of shift Paid No No
Arizona
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-402
Yes: worker must get three hours off between work and non-work time. Not required if employee has three consecutive hours available while polls are open at beginning or end of shift Paid Yes: at least one day before the election No Employer can decide when hours off are taken. Supervisors face fines of up to $2,500 if they block someone from voting, and the company itself can be fined as much as $20,000.
Arkansas
Ark. Code Ann. § 7-1-102
Yes: employer must schedule work hours so employee has time to vote Unpaid No No
California
Cal. Elec. Code § 14000
Yes: up to two hours at beginning or end of shift. Yes (up to two hours) Yes, 2 working days before election No Selection of beginning or end of shift depends on which gives employee most time to vote and takes least time off work.

The California Elections Code also requires employers to post a notice no less than 10 days before every statewide election explaining employees' right to time off to vote. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place at the work site.
Colorado
Colo Rev. Stat. § 1-7-102
Yes: up to two hours. Not required if employee has three non-work hours available while polls are open Paid, up to two hours. No No Employer may decide when hours are taken, but if employee requests, must allow employee to take time at beginning or end of shift.

Companies who bar a worker from voting could lose their corporate charter.
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Delaware
Del. Code Ann. tit. 15, § 4709
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. Employee who has accrued vacation time and is not in a "critical need" position may serve as an election officer without reprisal by the employer.
Florida
Title IX, Ch. 104, § 104.081
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But workers can't be disciplined or fired based on how they vote.
Georgia
Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-404
Yes: as much as necessary, up to two hours Paid No No Employer may decide when hours are taken. No penalties or jail time if employers don't follow the law.
Hawaii
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-95
Yes, two consecutive hours. Employer cannot change employee's regular work schedule. Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid No Yes. Employee must show voter's receipt, or employer can deduct hours off from pay. Meal or rest breaks excluded from 2-hour calculation.
Illinois
10 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/7-42; 5/17-15
Yes, two hours. Unpaid Yes, one day in advance for general or state election. No Employer may decide when hours are taken. Employer must give consent (for primary).
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Iowa
Iowa Code § 49.109
Yes, as much time as will add up to 3 hours, when combined with non-work time Not required if employee has three consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid Yes, in writing prior to the election No Employer may decide when hours are taken.
Kansas
Kan. Stat. Ann § 25-418
Yes, two hours or as much time as will add up to two hours, when combined with non-work time Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid No No Employer may decide when hours are taken, but not during a regular meal break.
Kentucky
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 118.035
Yes, "reasonable time," but not less than four hours Unpaid Yes, one day Employee who takes time off but does not vote is subject to disciplinary action Employer may decide when hours are taken
Louisiana
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §23:961
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers of 20 or more employees can't interfere with their employees' "political activities or affiliations."
Maryland
Md. Code 1957 Art. 33, § 10-315
Yes, two hours Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid No No
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Massachusetts
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §178
Yes, first two hours that polls are open Unpaid Employee must apply for leave of absence (no time specified). No Applies to workers in manufacturing, mechanical or retail industries.
Minnesota
Minn Stat. Ann. § 204C.04
May be absent during the morning of election day Paid No No
Mississippi
Miss. Code Ann § 23-15-871
No specific laws regarding time off to vote, an employer can't increase or decrease a worker's pay based on whom they vote for.
Missouri
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.639
Yes, three hours Not required if employee has three consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid, but employee must vote Yes, "prior to the day of election" Employee must actually vote to be paid. Employer may decide when hours are taken.
Nebraska
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-922
Yes, as much time as will add up to two hours, when combined with non-work time Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid Yes, prior to or on election day No Employer may decide when hours are taken.
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Nevada
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann § 293.463
If it is not practical to vote before or after work, employee may take time off based on distance from polling place Not required if sufficient time during non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid Yes, prior to election day No Employee who lives less than 2 miles from polling place may take one hour; 2-10 miles, 2 hours; over 10 miles, 3 hours.
New Jersey
N.J. Stat. Ann § 19:34-27
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers cannot influence or intimidate employees to vote for or against a particular candidate.
New Mexico
N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-42
Yes, two hours Not required if employee's workday begins more than 2 hours after polls open or ends more than 3 hours before polls close. Paid No No Includes Indian national, tribal and pueblo elections
New York
N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-110
Yes, as much time at beginning or end of shift as will give employee time to vote, when combined with non-work time Not required if employee has four consecutive non-work hours available at beginning or end of shift while polls are open. Paid, up to two hours Yes, not more than 10 or less than 2 working days before the election. No Employer may decide hours.

Companies who bar a worker from voting could lose their corporate charter.

Conspicuous notice of voting rights must be posted not less than ten working days before every election.
North Carolina
Ch. 163, SubchapterVIII, Art. 22, § 163-274
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers cannot discharge or threaten workers based on how they vote or don't vote.
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
North Dakota
N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-1-02.1
Employers encouraged to give employees time off to vote when regular work schedule conflicts with times polls are open Unpaid No No
Ohio
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3599.06
Yes, "reasonable time" Paid No No Employer can't refuse to let employee serve as an election official on Election Day.
Oklahoma
Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, § 7-101
Yes, two hours, unless employee lives so far from polling place that more time is needed. Not required if employee's workday begins more than 3 hours after polls open or ends more than 3 hours before polls close. Paid Orally or in writing one day before the election Yes Employer may decide when hours are taken or may change employee's schedule to give employee non-work time to vote.
Pennsylvania
25 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3547
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers cannot threaten or intimidate employees to influence their political opinions or actions.
Puerto Rico
Day is an official government holiday
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Rhode Island
R.I. Gen. Laws § 17-23-6
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers cannot put information in pay envelopes or post information designed to influence employees' political actions.
South Carolina
S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-560
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employers cannot discharge a worker because of political opinions or the exercise of political rights and privileges.
South Dakota
S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 12-3-5
Yes, two consecutive hours Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid No No Employer may decide when hours are taken
Tennessee
Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-1-106
Yes, reasonable time up to three hours Not required if employee's workday begins more than 3 hours after polls open or ends more than 3 hours before polls close. Paid Yes, before noon on Election Day No
Texas
Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 276.004
Employer may not refuse to allow employee to take time off, but no time limit specified Not required if employee has two consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid No No
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Utah
Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3-103
Yes: two hours at beginning or end of shift. Not required if employee has at least three non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid Yes, before Election Day No Employer may decide when hours are taken
Virginia
Va. Code Ann.§ 24.2-700
No laws require companies to give workers time off to vote. But employees working and commuting for 11 hours of the 13 hours polls are open may vote by absentee ballot.
Washington
Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 49.28.120
Yes, employer must either arrange work schedule so employee has enough non-work time (excluding meal and rest breaks) to vote, or allow employee to take "reasonable time" off, up to two hours. Not required if employee has two non-work hours (or enough time to get an absentee ballot) available while polls are open. Paid No No
West Virginia
W. Va. Code § 3-1-42
Yes, up to three hours Not required if employee has at least three non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid (if employee votes) Written request at least three days before election Employee must actually vote to be paid. Employers in health, transportation, communication, production and processing facilities may change employee's schedule so that time off doesn't impair essential functions, but must allow employee sufficient and convenient time off to vote
Wisconsin
Wis. Stat. Ann. § 6.76
Yes: up to three consecutive hours. Unpaid Yes, before Election Day No Employer may decide when hours are taken
Time Off Required? Exceptions? Time Off Paid or Unpaid? Advance Notice Required? Proof of Voting Required? Notes?
Wyoming
Wyo. Stat. § 22-2-111
Yes: one hour, other than a meal break Not required if employee has at least three consecutive non-work hours available while polls are open. Paid (if employee votes) No Employee must actually vote to be paid.

This page was updated on July 22, 2014

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