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With the California primary election just around the corner, employers need to be mindful of California law which allows employees up to two hours of paid time to vote in a statewide election if they do not have sufficient time to vote outside of working hours.

However, with some counties adopting the new California’s Voter’s Choice Act most employees should be able to vote without the need to take time off.  The Voter’s Choice Act allows registered voters approximately one month in which to cast a ballot, either by mail or at multiple ballot drop boxes in the county where they are registered to vote.  In addition, voting centers are open not only on election day, but for 11 days before the election, including weekends. In the counties that have adopted the Voter’s Choice Act, most employees will not be able to justify the need for time off to vote because they will have time sufficient outside of working hours to cast a ballot.

Voter’s Choice Counties

The following counties participate in the Voter’s Choice Act: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Tuolumne.

Rules in Other Counties

If your employees are registered to vote in counties that have not adopted the Voter’s Choice Act, the following rules apply for an employee seeking paid time off to vote in person:

  • The employee must be able to establish they do not have sufficient time outside of regular working hours to vote. Most polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. so this would allow most employees to have sufficient time to vote either before or after their work day.
  • The employee must notify their employer at least two working days in advance to arrange time off to vote.
  • The employer can mandate that the time taken be at the beginning or end of the shift, whichever allows the most time for voting and the least time off from working, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon.

If the employee can meet the above criteria, the time off must be paid and employees must not be required to use their available paid vacation or paid time off (PTO). An employee can take more time off to vote upon request, but only two hours of the time must be paid.

‘Time Off to Vote’ Poster

California law requires employers to post the “Time Off to Vote” poster at least 10 days before every statewide election, regardless of the extended voting time provided by the Voter’s Choice Act.  The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place or wherever it can easily be seen by employees.

The Time Off to Vote poster and notices to employers and employees are available from the Secretary of State in English and many other languages.

Click here to obtain the posters and notices.


This Newsletter is intended as a brief summary of employment law. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is not intended to serve as “legal advice,” or to establish an attorney-client relationship. If additional information is needed on any of the topics contained herein, please contact our office. All rights reserved. ©2020.