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Does your Florida employer have to give you time off to vote?

After a long campaign season, Election Day is almost upon us. Many South Florida residents may have already cast their votes due to an increased publicity effort to get people to vote early in this election. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as one in six Florida voters may have voted early this time around, and in some counties about half of the voters are expected to vote early. Some voters, however, will not vote early and they might be wondering how to best fit voting into their schedules on Tuesday.

Thirty-one states actually require employers to give workers some type of leave to vote on Election Day, sometimes even with pay, but Florida is among the states that do not mandate this. So, it is important that workers know that the last day of early voting in Florida is Saturday. On Election Day, Tuesday, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but this still may be problematic for some working voters.

In many states, in order to ensure employers do not infringe on anyone's right to vote, workers must be provided with a sufficient amount of time off of work on Election Day. In Texas, for example, workers must have at least two hours off between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and employers cannot dock their pay if they must come in late or leave early in order to have that two-hour window.

Florida is one of 19 states where there is no such state employment law providing time off to vote. Nonetheless, many employers might be willing to provide workers with a reasonable break so that they can exercise their right to vote on Tuesday. Workers should be aware, however, that employers do not have to provide this; so if this is a concern, it may be in a worker's interest to talk to their employers as soon as possible in order to ensure time will be available either Saturday or Tuesday to vote.

Source: Inside Counsel, "Employers should review 'time off to vote' laws before Election Day," Alanna Byrne, Oct. 30, 2012

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