Reminder: Employers must give time off to vote in some states

The coming midterm elections on November 6 again focuses attention on state laws allowing employees to take time off to vote, with or without pay. Laws governing time off to vote can be found in approximately 30 states.

In many states that allow time off to vote, employers are prohibited from making deductions from an employee’s wages for at least part of the time the employee is authorized to be absent from work to cast a vote. Laws requiring payment for time off to vote in Missouri and California were upheld as a proper exercise of the police power of the state, in a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions—Day-Brite Lighting, Inc v Missouri (1952), 21 LC ¶66,796, and Tide Water Associated Oil Co v Robinson (1952), 22 LC ¶67,217.

In addition to the U.S. states, Puerto Rico provides that a legal holiday is any day a general election, a referendum of general interest, or a plebiscite is held; employees must be allowed to vote.

Florida has chosen not to enact specific regulations governing voting leave. Nonetheless, the laws make clear that an employer may not discharge or threaten to discharge any employee because of the way he or she voted in any state, county or municipal election. Likewise, a Florida employer may not discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for failing to vote in such an election.

Similarly, in New Hampshire no person may use or threaten force, violence or any tactic of coercion, to induce or compel the person from voting or not voting for any particular candidate or ballot measure or refrain from registering to vote.

A chart listing those states with time-off-to-vote laws, along with information on which employees are covered, the amount of time that may be taken, special conditions under which time off may be taken, and penalties for employer violations of the laws is below:

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