The coming general election in November 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. Kentucky and Illinois laws previously required a wage payment but were held invalid and deleted by statutory amendments.
In addition to the US states listed here, 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. Likewise, general elections are considered legal holidays within the Virgin Islands, and employees required to work on election days who give prior notice are entitled to two hours off from work to vote in the elections, including the primaries, without loss of pay.
While Mississippi law does not specifically require time off to vote, employers cannot increase or decrease an employee’s wages or salary based on voting or nonvoting for any particular candidate(s). Further, where this provision says an employee cannot participate in an election campaign at the expense of the employer, it provides an exception for “necessary time to cast his vote.”
On the following pages is 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. Also included is a list of those states that do not have time-off-to-vote laws.
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