Feds denied extra hours off to vote

Cliff Schiappa/AP

The acting director of the Office of Personnel Management on Thursday denied a request to give federal employees two additional hours of excused absence to vote on Election Day.

Federal agencies already have authority to grant an excused absence for federal employees, "including the ability to adjust policies to circumstances as they unfold," said OPM acting Director Michael Hager in a letter to Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and James Moran, D-Va.

Hager was responding to an Oct. 30 letter from Davis and Moran, who requested up to five hours of excused absence for federal employees to vote on Nov. 4. Because turnout has risen in recent years and changes in federal and state election laws can increase the amount of time it takes to process votes, employees could face longer lines at polling sites and delays that could exceed the current three-hour excused absence, the congressmen argued.

Current OPM rules dictate that if the polls are not open at least three hours before or after an employee's regular work hours, the employee is eligible to report to work three hours after the polls open or leave work three hours before the polls close, whichever requires the lesser amount of time off. The rules define regular work hours as the time of day an employee normally arrives at and departs from work.

But Hager said only 30 minutes to one hour of excused absence typically is needed to provide employees with a three-hour period to vote either before or after the end of their work day.

"Because polling places are usually open for extended periods of time, excused absence is usually not needed," Hager wrote. "This historic arrangement allows for a strong balance of keeping the federal government functioning while providing time necessary for employees to exercise their right to vote."

Hager said OPM will notify federal chief human capital officers and human resource directors to "remind them of existing excused absence flexibilities and of their responsibility to support federal employees in voting in this year's elections."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.