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Frequently asked questions about taking time off to vote

Oct. 26, 2018, 3:02 PM

Volunteer handing out I Voted stickers after filling out a election ballot at a district voting station
(iStock)

Vanderbilt supports its faculty and staff in their right to participate in the electoral process and vote. Midterm Election Day 2018 is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Many areas throughout Tennessee offer early voting and absentee ballot opportunities to make it convenient for registered voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. However, if you are entitled to vote, the Hours of Work policy has guidelines on taking time off to do so.

In most areas, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 6. If your schedule begins three hours or more after the polls open or ends three hours or more before polls close, your department is not required to provide time off from work to vote.

Otherwise, you may request a reasonable period of time without loss of pay, not to exceed three hours, in order to vote on Election Day.

Frequently asked questions

If I need some additional time before or at the end of my work shift in order to vote, do I have to notify my supervisor in advance?

Yes. State law says that employees must notify their supervisors no later than noon the day before Election Day (noon on Monday, Nov. 5) if they need time off to vote.

Do I have to present proof to my supervisor that I am a registered voter, or that I actually voted, if I request time off to do so?

Supervisors should not require employees to present their voter registration cards to be granted time off to vote. If it becomes clear, however, that time off was used for purposes other than voting, an employee may be subject to performance action.

I regularly work 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on Tuesdays. Can I have some time off to vote?

Yes, if needed. You should notify your supervisor and discuss when you can be out of work to vote. Employees are not automatically entitled to three hours off work; rather, they are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to vote, not to exceed three hours, during the time the polls are open, during which they may vote. For example, if the polls in your county are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and you work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you could request to come in up to two hours late or to leave one hour early, which would not exceed the three hours available. 

I would rather vote in the middle of the day. Can I request to extend my lunch break or take up to three hours off mid-morning or -afternoon to vote?

Depending on your department needs, your supervisor may allow you to vote midday. Under Tennessee law, the employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent.

If I take time off to vote, do I need to record it as PTO?

If you take time off to vote on Election Day, you will not need to use PTO time for the time needed to get to a three-hour block of time. The time can be recorded as regular work time. If you take time off to participate in early voting before Election Day, you should work with your supervisor to either make up your time away from work or use PTO.

How do I report this time in Oracle?

Hourly paid employees should use the “Paid Admin Leave” code to record the time used to vote.

Can I use the Election Day paid time for early voting?

The intent and practice of Vanderbilt’s policy (which is based on Tennessee law) is that employees are entitled to a reasonable period of time off (up to three hours) to vote on Election Day without loss of pay. University policy also encourages alternative early or absentee voting—but it doesn’t provide paid time off for early or absentee voting. Please talk to your supervisor about options to flex your schedule or use PTO, if necessary.

If you have other questions, contact Human Resources.

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