Excused Absence for Voting
With Election Day [November 8, 2016] fast approaching, here’s some useful information for the Federal community:
Per the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), “the Federal Government has a longstanding policy of granting employees a limited amount of administrative leave” (absence from duty without loss of pay or charge to the employees leave accruals) “to vote in Federal, State, county, or municipal elections or in referendums on any civic matter in their community. Agencies have the authority to grant administrative leave to the extent that such time off does not seriously interfere with agency operations.”
On Monday, October 17, 2016, Acting OPM Director Beth Colbert issued a memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies outlining the policy of granting administrative leave to employees for the purpose of voting.
Granting Excused Absence for Voting
“Generally, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has advised agencies that 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 excused absence to 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. An employee’s “regular work hours” should be determined by reference to the time of day the employee normally arrives at and departs from work.”
Typically, polling places throughout the United States are open for extended periods of time. Therefore, administrative leave should rarely be needed. On November 8th, 2016, polls in the District of Columbia and Maryland will be open from 7AM – 8PM, and in Virginia from 6AM – 7PM.
Additionally, Feds can take advantage of other voting options to be able to fulfill their civic duties, if voting on November 8th is not a viable one.
Many jurisdictions offer early voting options for their residents. In the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, & Virginia) region, the seat of Federal Government, federal employee’s can choose to vote early either in person or by mail. Here’s the breakdown:
District of Columbia
In person: You can vote early starting Oct 22 at One Judiciary Square and Oct 28 at all other locations.
By Mail: All voters registered in the District of Columbia can vote by mail, however; absentee ballots must be received by the DC Board of Elections by November 1, 2016.
In person: Early voting runs from October 27th, 2016 – November 3rd, 2016.
By Mail: Any registered voter in Maryland can vote early by mail. Mail, fax, or scan and email to your local board of elections so it’s received by one of the following deadlines: Nov 1 if you want to receive your ballot by mail or fax; or by November 4th, 2016 if you want to download your ballot from the State’s website.
In person: Vote absentee in person using the machine in your local Voter Registrar’s Office on weekdays during business hours from September 23rd, 2016 – November 5th, 2016. Offices are also open on 2 Saturdays, October 29th, 2016 and November 5th, 2016.
By Mail: There are limitations to Virginia residents who can vote early by mail. Signed and completed absentee ballots must received by your local Voter Registrar’s Office by 7 PM on November 8th, 2016 (applications for absentee ballots must be submitted to your local Voter Registrar’s Office by November 1st, 2016). ***Virginia Feds who commute to DC for work are eligible to vote early by mail.***
Moreover, agencies should grant excused absence for early voting only when (1) the employee will be unable to vote on the day of the election because of activities directly related to the agency’s mission (such as Temporary Duty (TDY) travel) and cannot vote by absentee ballot, or (2) early voting hours are the same as, or exceed, voting hours on the day of the election, in which case the information provided under “Granting Excused Absence for Voting” applies.