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                                        Voting Leave

                                                                                                    Overview

Usually, most people will be able to find the time to vote before or after their workday. However, for some this may not be so easy. Perhaps they are working exceptionally long hours on voting day, or circumstances arise outside of their control that prevents them from getting to a polling place before or after the workday.


California law requires employers to provide employees with sufficient time off to vote.  The time off must be either before the employees' shifts begin or after their shifts end, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer and employee. The employer is only required to pay employees for up to two (2) hours of time off to vote. Employers must give their employer at least three days’ notice of their intention to take voting leave if they know or have reason to know the leave will be necessary.

At least ten (10) days prior to the date of the election, an employer shall post notice conspicuously so that workers can see the law pertaining to their voting rights. 

If, however, the employer refuses to allow an employee a leave from work in order to exercise their right to vote, then the employer has violated that right and the employee in then protected by the California Elections Code. California Elections Code section 14000 requires employers to honor the needs of employees to take time off from work in order to vote in the event that there is insufficient time to vote outside of work hours. Specifically, it provides:

  • If an employee does not have "sufficient time outside of working hours to vote at a statewide election, the voter may, without loss of pay, take off enough working time that, when added to the voting time available outside of working hours, will enable the voter to vote."

  • An employee cannot take more than two hours of leave for voting without loss of pay. The time "off for voting shall be only at the beginning or end of the regular working shift."

  • If the "employee on the third working day prior to the day of election, knows or has reason to believe that time off will be necessary to be able to vote on election day, the employee shall give the employer at least two working days' notice that time off for voting is" needed. 


Due to this law, the employee is not only allowed to request or take a leave in order to vote when they do not have sufficient time before or after work hours to do so, but the employee may also exercise their right to vote without fear of retaliation, repercussion, or discrimination from her employer.


Polls are generally open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. To facilitate compliance with the law, free, print-ready notices to employees and employers regarding employee time off for voting are available at the California Secretary of State website in English and nine other languages. 

The California Elections Code further provides that “An employer shall not require or request that an employee bring the employee’s vote by mail ballot to work or vote the employee’s vote by mail ballot at work.” Employers cannot insist that employees vote by mail as opposed to voting in person. Any employer who violates the applicable law shall be subject to a civil fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per election. 

Please note that if you are registered to vote in a County that has adopted the Voter’s Choice Act Elections Model, it is unlikely that your employer will be obligated  to allow you to take time off from work to vote. The California Voter’s Choice Act makes it easier to vote outside of work hours. In participating counties, every registered voter receives a ballot 28 days before an upcoming election. Voters may (i) return their ballot by mail, (ii) drop the ballot in a secure county ballot drop box, or (iii) visit any vote center in the county. Traditional polling places are replaced by vote centers. Voters may cast a ballot in-person at any ballot center in the county; voters are no longer required to cast their votes at a specific polling place. Starting ten days before the election and going through the Friday before the election day, one vote center is required for every 50,000 registered voters. On election day and the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Election Day, one vote center is required for every 10,000 registered voters.


Currently, the counties adopting the voluntary VCA model include

  • Alameda

  • Amador

  • Butte

  • Calaveras

  • El Dorado

  • Fresno

  • Kings

  • Los Angeles

  • Madera

  • Marin

  • Mariposa

  • Merced

  • Napa

  • Nevada

  • Orange 

  • Riverside

  • Sacramento

  • San Benito

  • San Diego

  • Santa Clara

  • Santa Cruz

  • San Mateo

  • Sonoma

  • Stanislaus

  • Tuolumne

  • Ventura

  • Yolo


There are additional counties currently under local review and are awaiting board approval, so your county may be joining soon.

If you have any further questions or need any additional information about voting leave, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_Esq@comcast.net.

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