October 24, 2012

Electing To Be Absent — Employees’ Election Day Rights in Minnesota

Posted in Election Day, Election Day, Leaves of Absence, Voting Rights tagged , , , , , , at 9:07 am by Tom Jacobson

With less than two weeks to go before election day, this is a good time for Minnesota employers and employees to think ahead about their election day rights.

Specifically, employees have a right to be absent from work for the time necessary to vote.  Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. § 204C.04) provides that:

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, without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence. An employer or other person may not directly or indirectly refuse, abridge, or interfere with this right or any other election right of an employee.

Violating this law is a misdemeanor.

This right does not apply to all elections, but it does apply to any “regularly scheduled state primary or general election, an election to fill a vacancy in the office of United States senator or United States representative, or an election to fill a vacancy in the office of state senator or state representative.” So, it will apply this Nov. 6.

Another Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. § 204B.195) provides that employees who serve as election judges may, after giving their employer at least 20 days’ written notice, be absent from work to serve as election judges. The written request to be absent must be accompanied by a certification from the appointing authority stating the hourly compensation to be paid the employee for service as an election judge and the hours during which the employee will serve. Employers may reduce the salary or wages of employees serving as  election judges by the amount paid to the election judge by the appointing authority during the time the employee was absent from work. Also, employers may restrict the number of persons to be absent from work to serve as election judges to no more than 20 percent of the total work force at any single work site.

What you need to know:  By adhering to the statutes noted above, Minnesota employees and employers can protect the right to vote while minimizing any disruptions in the workplace. 

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2012 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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