State law allows employees to leave work on Election Day to vote

LINCOLN, Neb. - Two weeks from today is Election Day. Today, 1011 learned some teachers were worried whether they'd be able to vote, after Lincoln Public Schools scheduled parent teacher conferences at three elementary schools on Election Day.

1011 made some calls and found out after Civic Nebraska got involved, those conferences are now rescheduled, but in the process we learned about a state law you may not have heard of that ensures your right to vote.

Nebraska Statute 32-922 requires employers to give employees a two hour consecutive window to leave and vote on Election Day if they want to do so. Lincoln Public Schools was getting around that by encouraging the affected teachers to vote early.

"There are a lot of things that people need to be aware about especially when it comes to their rights and how it might affect their ballot," said John Cartier, Director of Voting Rights with Civic Nebraska.

Cartier said the law allows employees to vote on Election Day or vote early, but that can't be mandated.

"Employers should absolutely be allowed to encourage their employees to vote and if they encourage them to vote early, that's excellent," Cartier said. "But that doesn't mean they can encourage them to vote early as a substitute for allowing them to vote during the workday."

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. While state law allows you to leave to vote, it comes with some limitations.

"That doesn't mean that every employer has to give every employee two hours off," said David Shively, Lancaster County Election Commissioner. "It depends on whether they're working that twelve hour period or not."

But if you are working the entire time the polls are open, and you believe this statute applies to you, experts say the best thing to do is try to schedule that time with your employer ahead of time. You can also vote early.

If you are going to vote early, you have to act quickly. The window to receive a mail-in ballot ends this Friday. After that, the only way to vote early is to go into the Election Commissioner's office and vote in person.