Employers are required by Iowa law to provide employees the opportunity to vote. Iowa Code Section 49.109 states:
“Any person entitled to vote at an election in this state who does not have three consecutive hours in the period between the time of the opening and the time of the closing of the polls during which the person is not required to be present at work for an employer, is entitled to such time off from work time to vote as will in addition to the person’s nonworking time total three consecutive hours during the time the polls are open. Application by any employee for such absence shall be made individually and in writing prior to the date of the election, and the employer shall designate the period of time to be taken. The employee is not liable to any penalty nor shall any deduction be made from the person’s regular salary or wages on account of such absence.”
The polls will be open from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on November 6th. Employees whose shift will not allow them three hours to vote are encouraged to make their written request for time off to vote well in advance of November 6th, to ensure the employer has time to make scheduling accommodations.
Under Iowa Code section 39A.5, an employer commits election misconduct in the fourth degree if they deny an employee the privilege conferred by section 49.109, or subjecting an employee to a penalty or reduction of wages because of the exercise of that privilege. Election misconduct in the fourth degree is a simple misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $625.00 fine.
If an employer refuses to allow an employee time off to vote, or penalizes the employee for taking time off to vote, the employee should contact the Wapello County Attorney’s Office.
Employees may also take advantage of absentee or early voting options. For more information on absentee and early voting, contact the Wapello County Auditor’s office at 641-683-0020 or visit https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html
Gary E. Oldenburger
Wapello County Attorney