Election day is Tuesday, November 6.  While federal law protects the right to vote, it does little to ensure that working citizens are actually able to vote.  No federal law requires that employers permit employees time off from their normal work schedules to vote.

Most states, however, do require that employers grant their employees paid leave for purposes of voting if the employee cannot vote during non-work hours.  Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada employers all must grant employees paid time off to vote under certain conditions, which are summarized below.

ARIZONA

Under Arizona law, private and public employers must grant employees up to three hours of paid leave for the purpose of voting if the following three conditions are satisfied:

  • The employee is eligible to vote in the election;
  • The employee requested a voting leave prior to the day of the election; and
  • Less than three consecutive hours exist between either:  (1) the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s regular work shift; or (2) the end of the employee’s regular work shift and the closing of the polls.

Assuming that these three conditions are met, the employee is entitled to paid time off to vote, but the employer may specify the work hours during which the employee may be absent from work for the purpose of voting.

Violation of Arizona’s mandatory voting leave law is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

COLORADO

Colorado employers must grant employees up to two hours paid leave during normal polling hours (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) for the purpose of voting if the following three conditions are satisfied:

  • The employee is entitled to vote in the election;
  • The employee requested a voting leave prior to the day of the election; and
  • On election day, the employee’s work hours are such that there are fewer than three hours between the opening and the closing of the polls when the employee is not required to be on the job.

Assuming that these three conditions are met, the employee is entitled to paid time off to vote, but employers may specify the work hours during which the employee may be absent from work for the purpose of voting.  However, at an employee’s request, the employer must set the hours at the beginning or end of the work shift.

Violation of Colorado’s mandatory voting leave law constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.  In addition, corporations violating this statute will forfeit their corporate charters as well as the right to do business in Colorado.

NEVADA

Nevada employers must permit an employee up to three paid hours to vote if the following three conditions are satisfied:

  • The employee is registered to vote;
  • The employee applied for voting leave prior to the day of the election; and
  • It is “impracticable” for the employee to vote before or after his or her hours of employment.

Nevada employers may specify the hours when a qualified voting employee may be absent from work.  However, Nevada law requires that employers provide employees “sufficient time” away from work to vote.  The statute defines “sufficient time” as follows:

  • One hour if the distance between the place of employment and the employee’s polling place is two miles or shorter;
  • Two hours if the distance between the place of employment and the employee’s polling place is more than two miles but not more than ten miles; and
  • Three hours if the distance between the place of employment and the employee’s polling place is more than ten miles.

Violation of Nevada’s mandatory voting leave law is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.