Excused Absence for Voting

The Federal Government has had a long standing policy of granting employees excused absence from work to vote in elections when the polls are not open at least 3 hours either before or after an employee's regular work schedule as long as it does not interfere with operations. When employees are granted excused absence the general rule is they may be permitted to report for work 3 hours after the polls open or leave work 3 hours before the polls close, whichever involves less time away from work. The following are examples of when excused absence may be approved for voting.

  • Example 1: If polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., an employee with duty hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. does not need excused absence because he or she has at least 3 hours after the end of his or her duty hours to vote.
  • Example 2. If polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., an employee with duty hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. may be approved 30 minutes of excused absence and leave work at 4:00 p.m. This allows the employee up to 3 hours to vote before the polls close.
  • Example 3: If polls are open 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., an employee with duty hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. may be granted 30 minutes of excused leave and report to work at 9:30 a.m. This allows the employee up to 3 hours to vote after the polls open rather than approving 2 hours of excused absence for the employee to leave work at 3:30 p.m. to vote.

If an employee's voting place is beyond normal commuting distance and voting by absentee ballot is not permitted, the supervisors may grant excused absence (not to exceed 1 day) to allow the employee to make the trip to the voting place to cast a ballot. If more than 1 day is needed, the employee may request annual leave or leave without pay for the additional period of absence.

Some employees, such as those on alternative work schedules, may find it convenient to vote prior to election day in jurisdictions that offer (early) voting. Supervisors should grant excused absence for early voting only when (1) the employee will be unable to vote on the day of the election because of activities directly related to the agency's mission (such as travel) and cannot vote by absentee ballot, or (2) early voting hours are the same as, or exceed, voting hours on the day of the election, in which case the information provided in paragraph 1 above and the examples applies. If the hours in which polling places are open are shorter than on election day, the employee is not eligible for excused absence because the employee has opted to vote at that time.

Most recent guidance from OPM on excused absence for voting is at

DoD guidance on excused absence for voting is contained in DoD 1400.25(Administratively Reissued 6 April 2009), Volume 630 at

Content last reviewed: 03/07/2014 SZ