Director's Spotlight - November 2012
With the 2012 election just around the corner, it’s important to stop and recognize the privilege we have as Americans to voice our opinions and vote in public elections. The right to vote has been a controversial freedom throughout U.S. history. When the U.S. was founded and the Constitution written, only white males who owned significant amounts of property had the right to vote. As time passed, property requirements were dropped and more people were given the right to vote for public offices and important public issues.
In 1870, the 15th Amendment passed to prohibit the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920. Today, there have been several additional provisions to give everyone equal rights to vote.
As a worker in the workplace, you have the right to exercise your vote during the workday. Most people spend eight to 10 hours each day in the workplace, which is the majority of the time that voting polls across the state are open (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
Section 115.639 of the Missouri Revised Statutes states that employers legally must allow employees to leave work to go to the polls. The law allows for employees to be absent up to three hours while the polls are open for the sole purpose of voting. The law provides that an employee cannot be discharged, penalized or disciplined for leaving work to vote, as long they give their employer notice prior to Election Day.
However, the statute does not apply when there are three successive hours that polls are open when employees are not at work. And employers may specify any three hours during the business day that employees may be absent in order to vote.
If you believe your voting rights have been violated, contact the Missouri Office of the Secretary of State at (800) 669-8683 or the U.S. Department of Justice at (800) 253-3931.
Ready to Vote?
Check your voter registration information before the election to make sure you are correctly registered and for your voting location. Be sure you have proper identification before hitting the polls. Have a question about the voting process or your voting rights? Learn all you need to know by visiting Vote Missouri!