Employees’ Right to Vote in Arizona

For those employees who did not dutifully fill out their early voting ballot, the question companies often ask is: Do companies/employers have to give their employees time off to vote?

The answer:  Look to the applicable state law. In Arizona, yes.

A.R.S. § 16-402 provides that, an employee is entitled to time off to vote if there are less than three consecutive hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of the employee’s regular workshift or between the end of the employee’s regular workshift and the closing of the polls.  In such event, the employee may absent himself/herself for such length of time at the beginning or end of his/her workshift that, when added to the time difference between workshift hours and opening or closing of polls, will provide a total of three consecutive hours. Employees must request time off to vote prior to the day of the election, the company may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent, and the company cannot penalize an employee for taking such an absence or make any deductions from their usual salary or wages.

16-402. Absence from employment for purpose of voting; application therefor; violation; classification

A. A person entitled to vote at a primary or general election held within this state may, on the day of election, absent himself for the purpose of voting from the service or employment at which he is employed if there are less than three consecutive hours between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his regular workshift or between the end of his regular workshift and the closing of the polls. In such event, he may absent himself for such length of time at the beginning or end of his workshift that, when added to the time difference between workshift hours and opening or closing of the polls, will provide a total of three consecutive hours. He shall not, because of such absence, be liable for any penalty, nor shall any deduction be made therefor from his usual salary or wages. Application shall be made for such absence prior to the day of election, and the employer may specify the hours during which the employee may absent himself.

B. A person who refuses an employee the right conferred by this section, or who subjects an employee to a penalty or reduction of wages therefor, or who directly or indirectly violates the provisions of this section, is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

Yes, you read that last section correctly. Apparently violating the above referenced statute is a Class 2 misdemeanor. I will be the first to admit that I don’t know much about criminal law. Aside from an internship in college with a police department tactical crime analysis unit, my legal studies have focused on everything but criminal law. So, being a little curious I decided to figure out — what sort of penalty is imposed for a Class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona?

According to the AZ 2012 sentencing chart, a conviction for a Class 2 misdemeanor could result in up to 4 months in jail, and up to a $750 fine for an individual or $10,000 for a company/enterprise. I can only imagine how bewildered the other inmates look when someone tries to explain to them that they are serving time for violating the employment voting law.

About Ashley Kasarjian

Attorney at Snell & Wilmer L.L.P., and publisher of the independent blog, Employment and the Law.
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