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Election Day Voting Laws 2022

Someone said there are elections next Tuesday? Here are some helpful tips for employers to minimize election day disruptions

Next Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day. Each state has voting laws that provide employees with time off work to vote. While generally the same, each state’s statute has its own nuances employers in those states need to observe. As a service to our clients and friends across the Upper Midwest, especially those with employees in multiple states, we put together the following summary of employee voting rights laws and practical tips for employers in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Should you have any questions regarding your obligations under any of these laws, feel free to contact an attorney in any of Wessels Sherman’s four offices.


Illinois

Illinois is one of the states which allows employees paid time off to vote in general or special elections with certain limited restrictions. Employees must be allowed a period of two consecutive hours to vote between poll opening and closing. For the upcoming November 8, 2022 election, polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If an employee is scheduled to start work before 8 a.m. and scheduled to leave work after 5 p.m., the employer must allow the employee paid time off during the employee’s scheduled workday so that the employee has 2 consecutive hours to vote between 6:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. The employer may not impose penalties on the employee for taking the paid time off to vote pursuant to this rule.

To take advantage of this paid time off to vote law, the employee must request the time off the day prior to the day of the election. Also, the employer may schedule the time period during which the employee may take off during the employee’s workday to vote.  Additionally, employees who work for an employer with more than 25 employees, are entitled to unpaid time off to work as an election judge on election day, provided that they have given the employer 20 days of advanced notice. The employer may not require that the employee apply accrued vacation time toward that absence.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Adams Murphy in our St. Charles office


Iowa

Iowa Voting Statute is Iowa Code Section 49.109.

The statute’s main points are as follows:

  1. The employee must be entitled to vote at an election in Iowa and does not have two consecutive hours off during the period between the time of opening and the time of closing of the polls during which the person is not required to be present at work.
  2. If the above situation is the case, the employee is entitled to such time off from work time to vote as will in addition to the person’s non-working time total two consecutive hours during the time the polls are open.
  3. The employee must request such absence in writing prior to the date of the election and the employer shall designate the period of time to be taken.
  4. The employee is not liable for any penalty nor shall any deduction be made from the person’s regular salary or wages on account of such absence.

Example: If the voting polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and the employee’s shift starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. you do not need to grant the employee time off to vote because there is a block of two (2) consecutive hours to vote from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Likewise, if the employee’s shift starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. you do not need to grant the employee time off to vote because there is a block of two (2) consecutive hours to vote from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. However, if an employee’s shift starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m., the employer should grant the employee ½ hour of paid leave to allow the employee to come to work at 9:00 a.m., thus creating a block of two (2) consecutive hours to vote from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. or allow the employee to leave at 6:00 p.m., which would allow the employee from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to vote. In this last scenario, the employer would have to pay for a half hour of pay for the employee to vote either before or after work.

Questions? Contact Joseph Laverty in our Davenport office


Minnesota

Under the Minnesota law, “every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election.” Employers or other persons may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee. Time used for voting must be paid and employers may not deduct from an employee’s wages, nor require them to use vacation or PTO time, etc. while voting.

Unlike some other states, Minnesota does not place any time limit for an employee to vote, other than that the time “is necessary” to go to and from the polls to cast a ballot. However, employers may ask employees to make arrangements with management on when they plan to vote to minimize disruptions to operations. Care must be taken, however, to avoid interfering with any employee’s right to vote, for instance, by restricting the time or amount of time for voting. Here are a few simple tips for Minnesota employers

• Communicate with employees prior to Election Day.
• Advise employees they must make prior arrangements with management if they wish to take time off work to vote. Be consistent with existing attendance policies where possible.
• While an employer may not mandate when employees vote it is permissible to ask (not coerce) employees to volunteer to vote when it least impacts operations, or when others are not voting to maintain adequate staffing.
• Because the law is written for employees, cracking down on suspected abuses of the right to vote is generally not worth the risk of a violation, which is a misdemeanor. However, if an employee is likely abusing this right (e.g., taking off 5 hours to vote when their polling place is 5 miles from their home and work) perhaps at least ask what took so long. The law allows “necessary” time to vote.

For a sample Election Day Memorandum to consider communicating to employees, email us or call (952)746-1700.


Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s voting law is straight forward. Employees are entitled to up to three (3) hours of unpaid time off to vote, and required to notify their employers prior to Election Day. Employers may designate the time of the day during which the employee may be absent to vote, but may not, other than a deduction for time lost, impose any penalty on an employee because of his or her absence to vote.

Questions? Contact Alan Seneczko in our Oconomowoc office

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