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State-by-state voting leave laws

08/17/2012

employee with vote pinUnderstand your voting leave obligations

Election Day is just a few months away, and everyone should exercise their franchise. You can help by letting employees take time off from work to vote. In fact, you may not have much choice in the matter. Some states require you to grant leave so employees can vote.

The list below summarizes state voting leave laws, including whether you must pay employees for the time they take off. Most states require time off only if employees don’t have sufficient time to vote either before or after their workdays. (States without voting leave laws have been omitted.) As with all state laws, contact your state labor department for the whole story.

Tip: Read more details on voting leave at “Can you rein in political speech at work?”

Voting leave laws

ALABAMA

Up to 1 hour, unless employee’s job begins at least 2 hours after polls open or ends at least 1 hour before polls close; reasonable notice to employer is required

Unpaid leave

ALASKA

Sufficient time, if employees don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote

Paid leave

ARIZONA

Employees may request up to 3 hours, if employees don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote  

Paid leave

ARKANSAS

Work schedules must accommodate voting

No provision as to paid or unpaid leave

CALIFORNIA     

Sufficient time to vote; employees request leave 2 days prior to election if need for leave is known           

Paid leave, up to 2 hours

COLORADO      

Up to 2 hours, if employees don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote; employees request leave 1 day prior to election if need for leave is known

Paid leave

GEORGIA      

Employees may request up to 2 hours, if they don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote

No provision as to paid or unpaid leave

HAWAII

Up to 2 hours, if employees don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote        

Paid leave, with proof of voting

ILLINOIS

Employees may request up to 2 hours, if workday begins/ends less than 2 hours after polls open/close

Paid leave

IOWA       

Employees make written request for up to 3 hours, if employees don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote     

Paid leave

KANSAS      

Up to 2 hours, if polls are closed during employees’ shifts         

Paid leave

KENTUCKY      

Employees may request up to 4 hours; reasonable notice to employer is required        

Unpaid leave

MARYLAND     

Up to 2 hours, if employees don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote         

Paid leave, with proof of voting

MASSACHUSETTS     

Employees may request time during first 2 hours after polls open      

Unpaid leave

MINNESOTA     

Sufficient time off to vote    

Paid leave

MISSOURI

Employees may request up to 3 hours, if they don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote 

Not specified as to paid or unpaid leave

NEBRASKA   

Employees may request up to 2 hours, if they don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote   

Paid leave, if employee gives notice of leave

NEVADA

Employees may request 1, 2 or 3 hours, depending on location of polling place; employees must request leave prior to Election Day

Paid leave

NEW MEXICO     

Up to 2 hours, if workday begins more than 2 hours after polls open or ends more than 3 hours after polls close

Paid leave

NEW YORK

Sufficient time off to vote, unless employees have 4 nonwork hours to vote; employees must notify employer not more than 10 days or less than 2 days in advance

Paid leave, up to 2 hours

NORTH DAKOTA    

Employers may establish voluntary time-off policies      

No provision as to paid or unpaid leave

OHIO

Reasonable time       

Unpaid leave

OKLAHOMA     

Up to 2 hours, if employees don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote; employees notify employer 1 day before Election Day

Paid leave, with proof of voting

SOUTH DAKOTA      

Reasonable time, if employees don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote  

Paid leave, up to 2 hours

TENNESSEE     

Up to 3 hours, if employees don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote; employees notify employer by noon of preceding day

Paid leave

TEXAS      

Reasonable time, if employees don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote

Paid leave

UTAH      

Employees may request up to 2 hours, unless employees have 3 nonwork hours to vote   

Paid leave

WASHINGTON     

Up to 2 hours, if employees can’t get absentee ballots and don’t have 2 nonwork hours to vote  

Paid leave

WEST VIRGINIA     

Employees make written request 3 days before election for up to 3 hours, if they don’t have 3 nonwork hours to vote

Paid leave

WISCONSIN      

Employees may request up to 3 hours     

Unpaid leave

WYOMING     

Up to 1 hour, unless employees have 3 nonwork hours to vote

Paid leave