Elections, Voting and Political Activities
Voting Time Leave
Employees are entitled to paid time off during their regular work hours, under state statute as well as contracts and plans, for the purposes of voting in any statewide primary or general election or an election to fill a vacancy in the office of a representative in Congress. General election includes elections at either the city or county level, as well as state and federal level. Such leave must be granted to employees who are eligible to vote and is only available during the day of the election. Such leave must be pre-arranged and is for a reasonable period of time, considering voter turnout and commute time.
Election Judge Leave
State law, as well as our contracts and plans, allow for paid leave for purposes of serving as an election judge. This paid leave includes not only the date(s) of an actual election, but also includes any training required of the election judge. Any leave for training purposes should be only for the training period, plus a reasonable commute period. An appointing authority is not required to adjust an employee’s schedule such that the employee’s work schedule coincides with the date(s) or hours of leave for training or an election.
While state law allows an employer to offset the employee’s pay by the amount of remuneration earned for service as an election judge, the State has elected to forgo such an offset due to the administrative costs of affecting such an offset. In order for employees to be granted paid election judge leave they must provide at least 20 days notice of the need for such leave. You may request a certificate of appointment as an election judge from the employee. You may also request documentation of the time required for the training.
Classes and Other Events Scheduling
Minnesota Statutes 204C.03.04 states that “except for regularly scheduled classes, no Minnesota state college or university shall schedule an event between 6 and 8 p.m. on the day that an election is held in any political subdivision in which the university or college is located.”
This statute pertains to both the primary and general election.
Use of State Computers and Computer System
The State’s computers and its computer system are not to be used for political activities. It is inappropriate for employees, employee groups or exclusive representatives to use state computers, computer systems, email addresses or fax numbers to communicate messages that are politically partisan. Encouraging employees to “get out and vote” is not partisan politics and is not prohibited. Encouraging employees to vote for a particular candidate, platform or party is partisan and is prohibited.
Government has the ability to regulate the speech of its employees within the workplace so long as employees First Amendment rights to freedom of speech are not abridged. Signs of a political nature may be posted, but should be kept out of areas of public access and/or public view.
State-provided bulletin boards, either physical or electronic, should not be used for purposes of posting political speech. Employees are permitted to post political speech within their cubicle, provided it is not an area of public access or visible to the public. Employees sharing workspace should be respectful of the sensitivities of their co-workers with regard to any political speech that may be posted. Buttons or pins containing a partisan message may be worn.
Political Activities of State Employees
An employee may be a candidate for public office, but may not campaign during work time, in state uniform or on state premises. Any state employee who has filed for an elected public office must request the opinion of Human Resources to determine if the holding of that office conflicts with his/her regular state employment. Human Resources will consult with other appropriate administrators to make a determination.