Ahead of major elections such as the mid-term congressional elections coming up, questions typically arise in federal workplaces regarding excusing employees to vote.
Generally, voting is to be done on an employee’s own time before or after work, but agencies do have authority under some circumstances to grant excused absence to employees whose work schedules would conflict with voting hours available to them.
According to longstanding OPM guidance, “Typically, polling places throughout the United States are open for extended periods of time. Therefore, administrative leave should rarely be needed. Generally, where the polls are not open at least 3 hours either before or after an employee’s regular work hours, an agency may grant a limited amount of administrative leave that will permit the employee to report for work 3 hours after the polls open or leave from work 3 hours before the polls close, whichever requires the lesser amount of time off.”
Agencies may grant excused absence for early voting only if the employee would be unable to vote on the day of the election because of activities directly related to the agency’s mission such as temporary duty travel and cannot vote by absentee ballot.