Voting laws: Are you aware of what yours are?

Are you aware of what your state requires you to let your employees do when it is time to vote?
Are you aware of what your state requires you to let your employees do when it is time to vote?

If you are like me you are happy to see the national election approaching on November 4th. Actually if you are like me you want to see November 5th get here. I just want the inane election ads to be over with!  In the meantime you may get some questions as to what the company allows an employee to do on Election Day. Do you pay people to vote? Do you have to allow them to vote?

Election laws

According to the folks at HR Matters E-tips there is no Federal requirement that states that an employer must allow employees to vote, let alone pay employees for that time. That is controlled by state law and unfortunately those laws vary widely from absolutely no state law to ones that require specific time and pay for voting. It is up to each individual business to know and understand how their state defines the requirements for allowing employees to cast a ballot.
In my state of Georgia the law says:

Employees that give reasonable notice to their employers have two hours to vote in any election for which they are qualified to vote. If the hours of work of such employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least two hours prior to the closing of the polls, however, the time off for voting is not available.

Generally polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm in most locales. Employees generally go vote prior to work or will go vote after work.
Most states that do have voting laws say that employees who wish to take time voting must give notice to their employer that they intend to take the time. It would be a good idea to inform employees of the notice requirement and arrange with them the necessary schedule changes if needed.

Modern considerations

In the days past voting had to be done on Election Day. Then absentee ballots were created. Then we extended voting times to allow people to cast ballots weeks ahead of time. Some states even made voting available in shopping malls. As a result the need for someone to actually cast a ballot on Election Day has diminished some, but some of us still enjoy the process of voting on the actual day.
Generally it is a good practice to allow employees to vote prior to work and not dock them any pay if that process makes them late. Alternatively, you can allow employees to leave work early in order to make it to the polls in time, and you don’t dock their pay for that either. This policy encourages people to be involved in the electoral process, which is ultimately a good thing.
With employees that work shifts that make it impossible for them to vote either prior to or after their shift you need to make an arrangement for them to have time off in order to vote.
To understand specifically what is required in your state visit State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws.

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