With the November midterm elections upon us, U.S. voter turnout is already surging in several key states with razor-thin races.
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About 29.6 million people cast early voting ballots as of the weekend in all 37 states that offer it -- compared to the 20.5 million of early and absentee votes in all of the 2014 midterm elections, according to the United States Elections Project.
If you live in one of the states that doesn’t offer early voting or haven’t cast your ballot yet – don’t fret: These 24 states require companies to offer paid time off (with some restrictions), or at least unpaid time off, as first reported by Vox.
In most states, polls are open for at least 12 hours so voters can cast ballots either before or after work, but the hours vary.
Alabama: Each employer in this state is required by law to give its employees the “necessary time off” -- not exceeding one hour -- unless that person’s shift concludes one hour before the polls close, or starts two hours after the polls open.
Alaska: Voters who don’t have the “sufficient time” to cast a ballot may, without loss of pay, take off as much working time to do so. Employees who have two consecutive hours either before or after the polls open to vote are not eligible.
Arizona: Employers are required to give their employees up to three hours of time off for voting, unless that employee has a consecutive three hours before or after their shift to do so.
California: If a worker doesn’t have enough time to vote, their employer must give them sufficient time either at the beginning or end of their mandated hours. Up to two hours off must be paid, and employees must give their employers a two day notice.
Colorado: Employees must give prior notice, and the time off needs to be at the beginning or end of a shift. The mandate excludes workers who have at least three hours to vote when the polls are open, and they aren’t working.
Hawaii: Voters are entitled to two hours off from work and won’t risk any pay loss to do so. If someone takes time off to vote and doesn’t, that employer may deduct the appropriate amount from their salary.
Illinois: For special and general elections, employees can request two hours off to vote. If they ask on Election Day, the employer is allowed to say no.
Iowa: If an employee doesn’t have three consecutive hours to vote outside of their regular shift, they may request time off to vote. The employer will designate the time slot, and may not penalize the worker or deduct any of their wages.
Kansas: Employers in this state are required to provide time off work to vote, unless the polls are open for two hours before or after the employee’s shift.
Kentucky: The law requires employers in Kentucky to provide its workers with at least four hours of time off to vote or to obtain an absentee ballot. Employees cannot be penalized for doing so, but must request the time off at least one day before the election.
Maryland: Employers must permit at least two hours of paid leave for its employees to vote, so long as the employee doesn’t also have two hours of continuous, off-duty time when they could do so. They also must show proof to employers that they voted.
Massachusetts: Under the law, employers must allow employees in manufacturing, mechanical or retail industries to take time off to vote during the first two hours the polls are open. Workers -- who will not be compensated for the time -- must request the time off ahead of the election.
Minnesota: Employers must pay their employees for the time off they need to vote. No specific time is given, so but employees are advised to “take only as much time” as they need to vote.
Missouri: Employers must give employees three hours paid time off to vote, but can choose the hours themselves.
Nebraska: The law in this state requires employers to give two hours off to voters who do not have two consecutive hours between when the polls open and close.
Nevada: Workers must notify their employers before Election Day, but can receive between one to three hours of paid time off to vote.
New Mexico: If your shift begins within two hours of polls opening or ends less than three hours before polls close, you’re entitled to up to two hours of paid leave to vote. Employers who violate the law can be fined up to $100.
New York: If registered voters don’t have sufficient time outside of their working hours, they may take up to two hours without loss of pay to do so.
Oklahoma: Employers must give its employees up to two hours paid time off work in order to vote.
South Dakota: Under state law, employees who don’t have two consecutive hours to vote are allowed to take time off to vote. Employers can determine the leave time for their employees.
Tennessee: Employers must provide a reasonable amount of paid time off to vote -- up to three hours -- if employees don’t have three consecutive hours to do so when not at work.
Utah: Employees who have less than three non-work hours when polls are open are eligible to request leave, so long as they do so before Election Day.
West Virginia: Like most states, the only employees eligible are those who don’t have three consecutive hours of their own time during polling time. Otherwise, they must ask for their employers in writing three days before Election Day for time off to vote.
Wyoming: Employees can have an hour paid time off to vote, so long as they don’t also have three consecutive hours off work when the polls are open.