Voting in 2020

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020, which is the last day for voting. In any election, employers must take note of their legal obligations to not interfere with employees’ voting rights. Here’s an overview of a few states’ laws regarding employee voting rights.

Arizona

Employers must provide up to three hours of paid time off to enable an employee to vote in a primary or general election if the employee has less than three hours either before or after work in which the polls are open so that the employee may vote. Employers can require that employees apply for voting leave prior to Election Day and can specify the hours that an employee may be absent to vote. Poll hours for Arizona: 6 am – 7 pm.

Colorado

Upon request the day before a general or municipal election, Colorado employers must provide employees who are registered to vote in a general election up to two hours off with pay if the employee does not have three or more non-scheduled work hours to vote while the polls are open. Employers may not discharge employees for taking time off, in accordance with the statute. The employer may specify the hours during which an eligible employee may absent themself, but such hours shall be at the beginning or ending of the work shift if the employer so requests. Poll hours for Colorado: 7 am – 7 pm.

New Mexico

An employee may take two hours away from work between the time of opening and the time of closing the polls to vote if they aren’t already off work at least three hours during the time the polls are open and they request the time off before Election Day. The voter shall not be liable to any penalty for such absence; however, the employer may specify the hours during the period in which the employee may be absent. The law does not apply to employees whose work day begins more than two hours subsequent to the time of opening the polls, or ends more than three hours prior to the time of closing the polls. Poll hours for election day in New Mexico: 7 am – 7 pm.

Utah

An employee may take two hours away from work between the time of opening and the time of closing the polls to vote if they aren’t already off work at least three hours during the time the polls are open and they request the time off before Election Day. The employer may specify the hours during the period in which the employee may be absent, except if the employee requests time off at the beginning or end of the work shift, it must be granted. No wage deductions for the absence are allowed. The law does not apply to employees who have at least three non-working hours between their shift and the opening and closing of the polls. Poll hours for Utah: 7 am – 8 pm.

Wyoming

Any qualified voter at any primary or general election to fill a vacancy in the office of representatives in the Congress of the United States is entitled to have one hour to vote other than meal hours. That hour is at the convenience of the employer and the voter may not lose any pay because of taking an hour to actually vote. This voting leave does not apply to any employee who has three or more consecutive nonworking hours during the time polls are open. Poll hours for Wyoming: 7 am – 7 pm.

This year amid a pandemic, civil unrest, and anxiety over voting, employers might also want to consider taking steps to make it easier for employees to vote. For example, a new Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey shows that 52 percent of organizations are offering employees paid time off to vote. Other options are:

  • Encourage no meetings and provide flexible schedules on election day.
  • Provide information on how and where to vote in your state; both for early voting and on election day.
  • Provide masks and other personal protective gear for employees who will vote in person.
  • Pay the postage for mail-in ballots.
  • Provide reimbursement for employees who need to take paid transportation to vote.
  • Provide paid time off for training and participating as a poll worker.

Please contact us for further assistance on this topic.