Election Day is coming in less than two weeks (with today being the last day to register to vote via mail). For some people, it’ll be the first time that they use new voting machines (The old lever system — pictured here — has been replaced by an optical scanner.)
While there are lots of sites discussing the effect of an election on employers, there isn’t much out there about what an employer’s obligations are. Here’s what you need to know:
Employers cannot make threats to employees that link their employment to how they vote. Employers who violate this statute are subject to imprisonment or a fine. Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-365 is the key law.
Despite this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, don’t expect to find much, if any caselaw or commenatory on it. Yet, employer must still avoid even the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees. (Employers cannot provide misleading information about the vote either.) But notable, they can still encourage employees to exercise their right to vote.
No Time Off Required For Voting
In Connecticut, the polls must be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Unlike some other states, Connecticut employers do not need to provide their employees with time off to vote. However, a reminder to employees about the polls being open and that they should vote either before or after their particular shift or work hours is certainly appropriate. Again, this is not influencing an employee’s vote.
Remind Employees of "Bill of Rights"
Employers can remind employees of their "Bill of Rights" for voting. Connecticut set up these rules and summarized them in a document here. Among the more noteworthy rules that employees should know of is their right to vote when they are "in line" at the time the polls close.
Reviewing the state’s laws on elections also reveals some other interesting quirk and trivial details . For example, voting areas must have have a United States flag on the wall (Connecticut’s flag is optional), and a telephone. (And no United Nations Flags are allowed.)
Encouraging employees to vote is a great way for employers to both abide by the law and assist a valuable civic duty in getting performed.