Workplace Voting Information
This page provides employees with information to help navigate politics in the workplace and ensure that workers know the laws so they may pursue their right to vote on Election Day. It addresses questions workers may have when it comes to their political freedoms.
The Voting Foundation website provides access to state election dates and deadlines.
- If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line – you have the right to vote.
- If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
- If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
- If you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline:
- English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
- Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
- Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287
- For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683
See the ACLU website for more information on election day rights, including the following:
- Voters with disabilities
- Poll workers who tell a voter their name is not on the list
- Another voter interfering with your right to vote
- You don’t speak English
There are several federal laws that protect your right to vote, some may be directly related to voting, and others addressing a specific group of people and their protections.
- Civil Rights Act – prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote.
- Voting Rights Act of 1965 – provides nationwide protections for voting rights. Section 2 is a general provision that prohibits state and local government from imposing any voting rule that “results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or color” or membership in a language minority group. Other general provisions specifically outlaw literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise racial minorities.
- Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 – requires that the states and territories allow certain groups of citizens to register and vote absentee in elections for Federal offices.
- National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 – sets forth certain voter registration requirements with respect to elections for federal office.
- Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 – mandates that Election Assistance Commission test and certify voting equipment, maintain the National Voter Registration form and administer a national clearinghouse on elections that includes shared practices, information for voters and other resources to improve elections.
- Americans with Disabilities Act – requires state and local governments (“public entities”) to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a core and fundamental federal law that protects voters against discrimination.
If you believe that your employer violated one of these federal laws, there are resources on who to contact. If you want to report possible violations, you can contact the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice or call (800) 253-3931.
Instead of leaving the issue for political representatives to decide, it is decided by a direct vote. During the 2022 general election, three states will have a legislative referendum on their ballots related to labor and employment. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), these states are Illinois, Nevada, and Tennessee. There are also states that have referendums related to voting rights.
Arizona. Voters in Arizona will decide on ballot measures to require or change voter identification requirements.
Connecticut – Early voting. The ballot includes a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse early voting.
Illinois – Worker’s Rights Amendment. The Illinois ballots will have a referendum asking voters to assent to or reject an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would provide four labor provisions that grant the following:
- The right for employees to organize and collective bargaining via their chosen representatives. See workplacefairness.org for more information on unions and collective bargaining.
- The right to negotiate various employment terms, including those regarding wages, hours, working conditions, economic welfare, and work safety.
- A prohibition against any laws interfering with the above rights.
- A prohibition against right-to-work laws. See workplacefairness.org for more information on right-to-work laws.
Louisiana. Voters will decidee on an amendment that prohibits local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote.
Michigan – Voting as a Constitutional Right. The ballot includes an initiated constitutional amendment, Proposal 2, would establish various voting policies as rights in the Michigan Constitution, such as requiring nine days of early voting, requiring the state to fund prepaid stamps and a system for tracking absentee ballots, and providing that people have a right to vote without harassment, interference, or intimidation.
Nebraska. Voters in Nebraska will decide on ballot measures to require or change voter identification requirements.
Nevada – Minimum Wage Amendment. This Nevada ballot initiative gives voters the option to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by July 1, 2024. If approved, the minimum wage in Nevada will go up in increments until it reaches $12. See workplacefairness.org for more information on minimum wage requirements.
Ohio. Voters in Ohio will decide on a constitutional amendment to prohibit local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote. Louisiana will vote on a similar amendment at an election on December 10.
Tennessee. Tennessee has a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would prohibit employers cannot deny employment because of a person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization. The state also has right-to-work amendment on the ballot. See workplacefairness.org for more information on right-to-work laws.
Arizona –AZ H.B. 2492 – requires that a person’s voter registration form contain at least the name, the residence address or location, proof of location of residence, the date and place of birth, and a check mark in the “yes” box for citizenship.
AZ H.B. 2119 – increases voting access to individuals who were convicted of felony offenses. People who were convicted of a felony previously had to wait at least two years before they could file an application to petition for their civil rights to be restored. The bill removes this waiting period, allowing them to apply immediately upon being discharged from imprisonment.
AZ S.B. 1638 – requires Arizona to provide mail-in voting options that are accessible to blind and visually impaired voters. The bill’s effective date is December 31, 2022.
Connecticut –CT H.B. 5262 – expands the reasons allowed for absentee voting and allows mail-in ballots as an option for voters who are unavailable to vote at their designated polling location for some of the hours it would be open. In addition, voters who are caretakers for a person who is sick or disabled may also apply to vote by mail.
Mississippi –MS H.B. 1510 – requires registered voters to be entered into a statewide elections management system and to have their information compared with the Department of Public Safety’s database. If a registered voter is flagged as a potential non-U.S. citizen, they are required to provide documentary evidence of citizenship.
Missouri –MO H.B. 1878 – repeals and replaces many election laws. Notable changes include:
- Voters who changed their address to a new county but whose voter registration was not changed may update their information on Election Day by visiting election authorities and providing a photo ID
- Absentee ballots may be cast at designated physical locations with a valid photo ID
- First responders, health care workers, and law enforcement may request an absentee ballot based on their occupation
- Absentee ballots sent by a common carrier will be considered cast when they are received before polls close on Election Day
New York –NY S.B. 7565 – Largely due to COVID-19, this bill will temporarily broaden the definition of “illness” to allow for greater access to absentee voting. Voters unable to physically attend a polling location because they risk spreading or contracting a contagious illness may apply for an absentee ballot for this. This law expires on December 31, 2022.
South Carolina –SC S.B. 108 – establishes the right to early voting at physical polling locations during a two-week period prior to the standard voting days for elections and primaries and heightens election security measures, such as by requiring absentee voters to have valid government identification and by altering voting machine and ballot requirements to confirm votes are authentic.
While most states offer online voter registration, some do not. The states that do not offer online voter registration are Maine, Texas, Montana, North Dakota (because all North Dakota residents are already registered), South Dakota, Arkansas, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Mississippi.
If you live in any other state, you can find an online portal on your state or local Department of Elections website. See USA.gov for access to state election websites.
Absentee ballots make it easier for people to vote when they cannot make it to their in-person polling location. There are several reasons why one might have to vote absentee; this could include illness, injury, disability, being out of town on election day, or if you are a student who attends school out of state. While all states have absentee voting, the eligibility for who can vote absentee may vary state by state.
Whether or not your employer is obliged to give you time off to vote is up to your state or local government. See workplacefairness.org for more information on time off from work to vote.
There is no federal law protecting employees from their bosses potentially firing them or otherwise retaliating against them in the workplace for their political beliefs and actions. There are states that provide protections. See workplacefariness.org for more information on employer retaliation for political activity.
No, your employer can’t require you to vote a certain way; however, he/she can tell you how you should vote. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that private employers are no longer barred from discussing political matters with their employees. See workplacefariness.org for more information on employer retaliation for political activity.
Federal Election Commission prohibits employers from using coercive tactics, such as threats of negative employment actions and threats of financial penalties to pressure employees to contribute to a campaign.
If the employer’s words are “encouragement,” which are protected as free speech and don’t rise to the level of a threat, there is a gray area. Whether the words of encouragement are protected or not depend on the facts and circumstances of
each instance. These are some tips on how employers can approach employee contributions.
- Make sure employees know a contribution is 100 percent voluntary. This will also ensure employees feel valued by the company and help create goodwill, even if an employee disagrees with your political alignment.
- Educate employees on their right to refuse without reprisal (and stay true to that). If an employee feels that he or she might be punished for not contributing, the employment relationship will suffer. No political contribution is worth the cost of a productive employee.
- Talk to an attorney before encouraging political contributions from employees. An attorney can help you avoid the appearance or perception of coercion.
See workplacefariness.org for more information on employer retaliation for political activity.
See workplacefariness.org for information on employee political activity in the workplace.
According to federal law, Section 208 of the Voting Rights Actpermits voters who have limited English proficiency to have assistance with voting from someone they select. The Department of Justice states that “Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act provides for voters who need assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write. Any such voter may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.” However, you cannot have assistance from your employer or “officer or agent of the employee’s union.
If you prefer a political candidate who prioritizes workers’ rights, there are certain issues and policies you should look out for. You may wish to see a candidate who endorses actions such as:
- Increasing state minimum wages
- Increasing or eliminating subminimum wages
- Expanded union rights
- Expanding employee benefits, such as with maternity leave, sick leave, and more
- Advocating against right-to-work laws, which are often perceived as anti-union laws
You may encounter a time where an employee approaches you and asks about voter registration. Or you may be in the process of simply compiling information to present to your employees at a staff meeting on the importance of voting. Either way, if you are looking for information on how to register to vote for your employees, you should defer to their state or local Department of Elections website listed here.
Absentee ballots make it easier for people to vote when they cannot make it to their in-person polling location. There are several reasons why one might have to vote absentee; this could include illness, injury, disability, being out of town on election day, or if you are a student who attends school out of state. While all states have absentee voting, the eligibility for who can vote absentee may vary state by state. See the USA.gov website for information on absentee voting. website where they outline the steps to take. Also, by visiting Can I Vote and selecting your state, you can find information on absentee voting rules in your states.
Employers can play a substantial role in the workplace by educating and mobilizing their employees to vote. You can use the resources below to share with your employees on how to vote, where their polling site is, and more.
There are many organizations that provide information for voters. Here are a few that you might look at while relaying information to your employees:
There are a number of things employers can do to encourage voting. They can:
- incorporate messaging on encouraging employees to vote into the onboarding process.
- provide resources for mail-in ballots.
- include reminders in staff meetings or employee emails/newsletters.
- avoid holding meetings on election day to maximize time employees have to go vote.
- hold events related to voter education or a voter registration drive.
As an employer, you hold the power to encourage your employees to perform their civic duty and promote overall political participation. That as such, there are things you should make sure you do not do when incorporating voter participation information in your workplace. Employers should be nonpartisan, and instead provide the resources for employees to make their own informed decisions on who to vote for. In addition, employers should not pressure or force employees to do anything, like registering.
Employers should serve as a nonpartisan resource for their employees when it comes to providing voter education materials. Point your employee to their state’s Department of Elections websites, which includes information on the candidates. USA.gov provides access to these websites.
For example, when you visit the Virginia Department of Elections website, click on Cast a Ballot → How to Vote → More details on candidates in elections, you will find information on who is running in your district and their website. More information on the candidate will be available on their website.