Election Day is coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and plenty of voters across the country are gearing up to cast their ballots. Though many are opting to vote early, either in person or by mail due, to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some voters will still be going to the polls on Nov. 3. Since Election Day falls on a weekday, you may be wondering if you can miss work to vote. Here’s what you need to know.
There is no federal law guaranteeing time off for employees on Election Day, but there are state laws on the matter. How it works for you will depend on which state you live in, according to the AFL-CIO. For the 2020 election, there are 30 states where employers are legally required to give their employees time off to vote, according to non-profit employee rights organization Workplace Fairness. You can also check your Secretary of State website for information on your state’s laws, and some states offer printable letters outlining your right to vote on Election Day, which you can show your employer.
Some states define the amount of time workers are allowed to get off from work to vote, and whether or not it's unpaid or paid. The time off generally ranges from 1 to 3 hours. There are also some states where employers are required to give you time off only if you don't have time before or after work to vote.
Most states prevent employers from firing or disciplining you because you missed work to vote, but if you take time off for voting and use it for another purpose, there are some states where your employer can reduce your pay for that day. In those cases, you'll want to keep a proof of voting, such as a voter’s receipt, to show to your employer. It's also a good idea to communicate with your boss or manager before you plan to take time off to vote, since many states require you to give your employer advance notice.
If you live in a state without a law requiring employers to give employees time off to vote, you can still ask your boss or manager if you can have time off to vote, or if you can use sick leave or vacation time to go vote. In that case, it'll be up to your employer to decide if you can get the time off or not.
In early voting states, the Election Day rules for time off may or may not apply to your situation, so it’s best to communicate with your boss if you need time off to vote before Election Day. If you don't want to take time off work, you can also check if you're able to vote by mail in your state.
If you vote in person on Nov. 3, you'll want to follow the safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of June 22. The CDC recommends you wash or sanitize your hands before entering and upon leaving a polling place, wear a cloth face covering over your mouth and nose, and practice social distancing.
Your voice matters. So does your vote. Make sure both are heard and counted in the 2020 election by registering to vote right now.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.