OPM issues reminder on excused absences to vote

The Office of Personnel Management reminded agencies of the federal government’s policies regarding the granting of limited time off to vote in elections.

“Agencies have discretionary authority to grant excused absence to the extent that such time off does not interfere with agency operations, including the ability to adjust policies to circumstances as they unfold,” OPM acting Director Beth Cobert wrote in an Oct. 17 memorandum to agency heads. “Typically, polling places throughout the United States are open for extended periods of time, and an increasing number of jurisdictions are offering early voting options. Therefore, excused absence should rarely be needed.”

The memo noted that OPM’s general advice is that agencies may grant a limited amount of excused absence in areas where the polls are not open at least three hours either before or after an employee’s regular work hours.

In one example presented in the memo, Cobert said that “if an employee is scheduled to work from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the employee’s polling place is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the employee may be granted ½ hour of excused absence from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., if requested.”

Also, if an employee’s voting place is “beyond normal commuting distance and vote by absentee ballot is not permitted,” an agency may grant excused absence not to exceed one day to travel to the polling place. An employee is required to request annual leave or leave without pay if any additional time is needed to make that trip, Cobert wrote.

Other conditions and limitations are outlined here

Reader comments

Fri, Oct 21, 2016 Deployed Civilians

What do we do for employees who are TDY approximately 600 miles away from their duty station for several months, who aren't available to return home to vote on Election Day? I can't seem to find any guidance for absentee voting and admin leave to allow employees to vote in those situations. We have many employees in this scenario.

Wed, Oct 19, 2016 Richard

With all the options for early voting, this excused absence should be really limited

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