You can take time off work to vote in 30 US states — but you’re out of luck in the rest

Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to leave work to vote.

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Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to leave work to vote.
source
Thomson Reuters

If you’re wondering whether you can come in late or leave work early to cast your vote on election day, the short answer is, it depends on where you work.

Currently, there is no federal law that mandates employers provide their employees time off to cast their ballots. But the majority of US states have time-off-to-vote laws, also referred to as voter-leave laws, and have different requirements and exceptions for employers and employees.

While some states guarantee paid time off, for example, others do not. And the time guaranteed for employees to vote varies state-by-state as well.

Of course, your own employer may offer leave to vote, even if your state does not. In 2016, for example, Patagonia announced that would close all US stores on Election Day in an effort to encourage customers and employees to vote.

But, since not everyone’s employer is so generous, you’d be well-advised to learn about the specific voter leave provisions in your state.


Alabama

source
REUTERS/Chris Keane

Time off required

One hour

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or one hour after work to vote.

• Employee must provide “”reasonable notice”” before taking time off.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.”


Alaska

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.


Arizona

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.”


Arkansas

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Employer must schedule work hours on Election Day so that employees have enough time to vote.


California

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has “sufficient” time outside of working hours to vote.

• Time off for voting should be only at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless otherwise mutually agreed.

• Whenever possible, employee must provide at least two working-days’ notice before taking time off.


Colorado

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off, but employee may request that the time off is at the beginning or end of a work shift.


Connecticut

Time off required

None


Delaware

Time off required

None


District of Columbia

Time off required

None


Florida

Time off required

None


Georgia

source
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide “”reasonable notice”” before taking time off.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Hawaii

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Time off excludes any lunch break or rest periods.

• If employer can verify employee took leave and failed to vote, employer may make appropriate deductions from employee’s salary or wages.


Idaho

Time off required

None


Illinois

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.

• These rules apply to general or special election, not primary.


Indiana

Time off required

None


Iowa

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Kansas

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.

• Time off excludes any regular meal break.


Kentucky

Time off required

Four hours

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.

• If employee takes leave and fails to vote without a valid reason, employee may be subject to disciplinary action.


Louisiana

Time off required

None


Maine

Time off required

None


Maryland

source
Thomson Reuters

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employee must provide proof of voting or attempt to vote.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Massachusetts

Time off required

First two hours after polls open

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Applies only to workers in manufacturing, mechanical, or mercantile establishments.

• Employee must apply for a leave of absence for time off.


Michigan

Time off required

None


Minnesota

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Paid


Mississippi

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Not specified


Missouri

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Montana

Time off required

None


Nebraska

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before or on Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Nevada

Time off required

One to three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Employees who work two miles or fewer from the polling place may take one hour; two to 10 miles, two hours; more than 10 miles, three hours.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


New Hampshire

Time off required

None

Notes and exceptions

• Employee may request an absentee ballot if they must be physically present at work, or in transit to and from work, during the period the polls are open.


New Jersey

Time off required

None


New Mexico

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or three hours after work to vote.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


New York

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least four hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice “not more than ten nor less than two working days before” Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.

• If employee requires more than two hours to vote, employee may take additional unpaid time to vote.


North Carolina

Time off required

None


North Dakota

Time off required

None


Ohio

source
Thomson Reuters

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Paid for salaried employees, unpaid for hourly, commissioned, or piecework employees


Oklahoma

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice one day before Election Day.

• Employee must provide proof of voting.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.

• If employee requires more than two hours to vote, employee may take additional “sufficient” time to vote.


Oregon

Time off required

None

Notes and exceptions

• Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, with the option of voting in person.


Pennsylvania

Time off required

None


Rhode Island

Time off required

None


South Carolina

source
Thomson Reuters

Time off required

None

Notes and exceptions

• Employee may request an absentee ballot if they must be physically present at work, or in transit to and from work, during the period the polls are open.


South Dakota

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Tennessee

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice by noon the day before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Texas

Time off required

As long as it reasonably takes to vote

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least two hours available before or after work to vote.


Utah

Time off required

Two hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off, but employee may request that the time off is at the beginning or end of a work shift.


Vermont

source
Thomson Reuters

Time off required

None


Virginia

Time off required

None


Washington

Time off required

None

Notes and exceptions

• Washington is a vote-by-mail state.


West Virginia

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Employee must provide notice at least three days before Election Day.

• In certain industries, employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Wisconsin

Time off required

Three hours

Paid or unpaid

Unpaid

Notes and exceptions

• Employee must provide notice before Election Day.

• Employer may specify the hours employee can take off.


Wyoming

source
Rick Wilking/Reuters

Time off required

One hour

Paid or unpaid

Paid

Notes and exceptions

• Unless employee has at least three hours available before or after work to vote.

• Time off excludes any meal break.