Getting time off work to vote and same day registration: what you need to know

Iowa and Minnesota both allow same day registration, though there are some differences on having time to vote during the work day

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 8:13 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 8:42 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Under Iowa Code and Minnesota Statute, employers are required to give employees time to vote. However, there are some slight differences:

Per Iowa Code Ann. § 49.109, employers are required to allow an employee up to three hours of time off for voting, unless the polls are open three hours before or after that employee's shift. Employees are also required to to apply for the time off in writing before Election Day, with the employer designating the period of time to be taken, and time off for voting must be paid.

Under Minnesota Stat. § 204C.04, the statute allows an employee to be absent from work at any time during their scheduled hours for the necessary time to go to a polling place, cast a ballot and return to work. Leave is with pay, and employees can't be required to use personal leave or vacation time for the time off necessary to vote.

However, getting out to vote on Tuesday may not be easy for everyone.

Many first responders work around the clock, and finding time to get to the polls may not always seem realistic. However, the Mason City Fire Department has a goal to give firefighters and paramedics the ability to go vote, though Captain Dustin Pillard says that voting before their shift is more beneficial. If they're not able to, he says that there is a stipulation as to how to go about voting while on call.

"Most of the time we ask them to respond in a response vehicle. That way if there's additional calls, they're able to continue and respond to the 911 calls on emergencies if needed."

In addition, Iowa and Minnesota voters have the right to register at the polls. While Minnesota has had same day registration since 1974, it's only been in place in Iowa since 2007.

Jayden Smith is a poll worker at Grace Church in Mason City, and says that having this option available could entice potential voters, including younger ones.

"With how our generation, like the younger generation's going, we're like, very low in the voting or polling, with our procrastination and our laziness, it really ups the ante on how we're going to get out and get our voices heard."

Poll workers at Grace Church have accepted around 30 same day voter registrations.

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