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Time Off to Vote Laws Vary by State

By Andrew Lu on November 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Today is Election Day, and many of you may be stuck in an office wondering if you can take time off to vote.

Time-off-to-vote laws are state-specific, and there is no federal requirement that employees must be allowed time off to cast a ballot. So if you live in a state without any time-off-to-vote laws, you may have no option but to cast an absentee ballot or request a leave of absence to vote.

But if you live in other states, laws may not only allow you time off to vote, but may also entitle you to get paid while you are away from your workplace performing your civic duty.

In fact, 23 states require that employers offer paid time off so that their employees can cast their ballots. For example, Alaska allows employees to take as much time as needed to vote. Minnesota gives employees the morning off, while most other states give employees between one and three hours to vote, while getting paid at the same time.

Seven states require that employers give their employees time off to vote, but the time off does not have to be paid. Some states like Arkansas require that the employer create schedules so that employees have the time to vote, while others like Illinois and Georgia allow a worker to take two hours off; in Kentucky, it's four hours.

Bad news for procrastinators, however: In general, you need to request the time off ahead of time in these states.

Finally, 20 states and the District of Columbia do not have any rules on the books requiring that workers have time off to vote. This includes key political battleground states like Virginia, Florida, and Michigan. Included within the 20 states is North Dakota, which "encourages" employers to provide time off to vote, but stops short of requiring it.

The laws about getting time off to vote are very specific. You can see a full breakdown of the state-by-state time-off-to-vote laws here.

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