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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 21, 2020

Excused Absence for Voting for Civilian Employees

By MyCG Staff

Based on Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 2020 guidance, civilian employees may qualify for administrative leave to allow time necessary to vote, or participate as a nonpartisan election volunteer in the upcoming federal, state, county, and municipal elections on Nov. 3, 2020.

Voting hours vary from state to state, but many polling locations offer extended hours or early voting options, minimizing the need for excused absence. 

A limited amount of excused absence may be granted where polls are not open at least three hours before or after an employee’s regular work hours to provide time to vote, either before or after the employee’s regularly scheduled workday (whichever requires the lesser amount of time off). Following OPM 2020 guidance, excused absence should not be granted to employees who have already voted in the 2020 general election.

Example voting leave scenarios:

  • For example, if an employee is scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and his/her polling place is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. up to 30 minutes of excused absence from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. may be granted.
  • Excused absence may NOT be granted if an employee is scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the employee’s polling place is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., since the employee would have at least three hours after the end of his/her workday to vote.

Extended Commuting Distance: If an employee’s voting place is beyond normal commuting distance (i.e., 50 miles as defined by the Federal Travel Regulation section 302-2.6) and vote by absentee ballot is not permitted, a limited amount of excused absence may be granted depending on the distance. The amount of excused absence may vary depending on the distance to the voting place but cannot exceed one day. Supervisors should consider the distance when granting the amount of excused absence.

Early Voting: Employees are encouraged to take advantage of early voting if  that is an option offered in their location. A limited amount of excused absence, as outlined above, may be granted for early voting when the employee is unable to vote on the day of election because of activities directly related to the agencies mission (such as travel) and if they cannot vote by absentee ballot. 

Excused absence may not be granted if a non-workday of the employee on a compressed or other alternative work schedule falls on a day the employee’s polling place is open for voting.

Leave requests must be coded as “admin/excused absence” with “voting” as the transaction type and approved by the employee’s immediate supervisor. Questions regarding coding of timecards should be directed to the unit’s timekeeper or immediate supervisor.

Non-partisan Volunteer: Employees requesting time off to train and serve as a non-partisan election official to assist in the proper and orderly voting and procedures at polling stations can be granted excused absence to the maximum extent possible while accounting for the responsibilities and duties to carry out the Coast Guard’s mission. A recent email from the DHS Acting Deputy Secretary also reiterated federal employees who volunteer as non-partisan election officials on election day may be granted excused absence in accordance with DHS Directive 254.01.  Interested employees are reminded to check with their servicing Coast Guard legal office  for guidance on prior approval requirements.

For more information regarding guidelines and eligibility, contact your servicing field or center human resources specialist.