Alabama requires employers to give some employees an hour to vote

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, stickers to be given to people who have voted are...
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, stickers to be given to people who have voted are seen at a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 11:38 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - We’re just one week away from Election Day - so the time to finalize your voting plan is now.

Thousands of people have already voted absentee, but let’s talk about those of you still planning to show up on election day.

Will you even have the time, or better question, will your boss give you the time?

Let’s say you work from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., by state law your boss has to let you leave work at some point during your shift to go to the polls. But they only have to give you 60 minutes to do so.

And with the turnout expected on election day, some worry this may not be enough time.

“We’re voting so we can ensure a safe future for our kids, their education, their healthcare,” a woman voting absentee Tuesday said.

There’s a lot of reasons pushing people to the polls this year, but finding time to get there is the tricky part.

“I think everyone should have the right to vote. Our job, whatever that job might be shouldn’t keep us from voting,” voter April Hodges said.

Attorney Mark McDaniel broke down the state law for us.

“In Alabama you get one hour off, and it’s up to the employer what hour you get to take off, and they don’t have to pay you for that,” McDaniel said.

It says if you start work less than two hours before the polls open and have less than an hour to get to the polls when you’re off, your employer has to give you that hour.

You also have to give them a heads up.

“I would recommend a day before, notifying your employer, in case they have to get someone in for that hour,” McDaniel said.

Tuesday, the line to vote absentee wrapped around the Madison County Courthouse. Some say they waited for over two hours. So if you take an hour and twenty minutes to vote on election day, things may not turn out too great.

“They can fire you and there’s nothing you can do about it,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel says that’s because Alabama is a right to work state, which means an employer can fire you for any reason other than things like gender or race.

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say you should have the right to vote, so go ahead and vote and lose your job, but I don’t have your house payments, your car payments and your children’s educations,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel tells me during the last presidential election, employers got reported to the Secretary of State’s Office for not giving eligible employees the hour to vote.

So, hopefully your employer understands the law and is ready to flexible this election season.

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