Election Day is nearly upon us. Much like I did two years ago, it’s time to recap the rules for employers regarding the election. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for everyone to vote for their favorite candidate…or at least the one that they dislike the least. You can find out where you should vote at this easy to use link.
Any Time Off Required?
One question that arises from time to time: Do employers in Connecticut need to provide employees with time off to vote?
Many states offer this protection. However, Connecticut isn’t one of them.
What does that mean? It means employers can insist that employees vote during non-working hours and have no legal obligation to provide time off to employees 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.
No “Threats” To Employees
Connecticut does have one peculiar law, however, that prevents employers from interfering with an employee’s vote. In fact, earlier this year, Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-365 was amended to make interference with the election a Class D felony:
Any person who (1) during the period that is sixty days or less prior to any election, municipal meeting, school district election or school district meeting, attempts to influence the vote of any operative in his or her employ by threats of withholding employment from him or her or by promises of employment, or (2) dismisses any operative from his or her employment on account of any vote he or she has given at any such election or meeting shall be guilty of a class D felony.
Despite a version of this law being on the books for nearly 60 years, don’t expect to find much, if any caselaw or commentary on it. Yet, employers should still avoid the appearance of suggesting how to vote to employees.
Remind Employees of “Bill of Rights”
Employers can feel free to 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 quirks 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.)