Topic of the Week State Laws on Voting Rights/Time Off To Vote
- I'm scheduled to work on Election Day. Do I have a right to take time off from work to vote?
- How do I take advantage of the law in my state to vote during work hours on Election Day?
- I want to volunteer or work at the polls on Election Day. Can my employer stop me from doing that?
Not necessarily. Getting time off to vote is an area of the law dealt with on a state-by-state basis. Depending on where you live, you may, or may not have the right to take time off to vote for voting These state laws is rule applyies during local, as well as national presidential elections.
In some states, the law designates a specific amount of time that workers must be allowed off to vote. This time off may be paid or unpaid. Some states require your employer to give you time off only if you will not have enough time to vote before or after work, while the polls are open. Most but not all states prevent your employer from firing or disciplining you because you take time off to vote. In some states, if you do not actually vote even though you took time off for that purpose, your employer can dock your pay for the hours off, so save your receipt or other proof of voting in case you're later questioned.
While the law on this varies from state to state, many states require that you give your employer advance notice of your intention to vote, or you cannot rely on the law's protections. It's a good idea anyway, so that you and your employer can make arrangements for coverage while you're away from work. Even if your state does not have a law, you may find your employer will support your efforts to vote. If there are no protections in your state, and your employer will not accommodate your need to vote, before giving up and not voting, be sure to find out your state's laws on absentee or early voting. That may be an option if there is absolutely no way you can be away from work and still vote.
Even if your state has a law allowing you to vote, the time that you are permitted for voting is generally limited to a few hours--the time it takes most people to vote--rather than the entire day. Your employer may allow you to use a vacation day or personal leave for that purpose, but if you're planning to do this, it's recommended that you give advance notice. Your employer might not be so supportive of its employees' civic participation in the future if everyone just calls in sick or takes leave that day. Use of sick leave and vacation leave are generally within your employer's discretion to approve or deny. Employees generally do not have a legal right to take leave whenever they want without advance notice or permission, even if leave has been accrued, so make sure your employer is on board before you miss work.
Thought of the Week
"On Monday, America celebrates the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. This year also marks the 55th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which cemented voting rights for Black citizens – all in a presidential election year. It’s a remarkable accomplishment given that slavery was such a dominant institution before the Civil War. But the history of the 15th Amendment also shows rights can never be taken for granted: Things can be achieved and things can be taken away."
–Eric Foner; Columbia University history professor and author
Weekly Comic by Jerry King
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from Fact Tank: News in the Numbers
Where Latinos have the most eligible voters in the 2020 election
- Latinos will account for 13.3% of all eligible voters.
- Two-in-three Latino eligible voters live in just five state (California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Arizona.
- Texas’ 20th Congressional District is home to 359,000 Latino eligible voters, the highest number of any congressional district in the country.