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Rep. Cartwright, Colleagues Introduce Time Off to Vote Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Nikema Williams (D-GA-05) and Andy Levin (D-MI-09) introduced the Time Off to Vote Act, which would require employers to provide their employees at least two hours of paid leave to vote in a federal election.

During each election, many wage earners choose not to go to the polls because they simply cannot afford to take time off from work. Despite this, in 2020, only 23 states and D.C. guaranteed workers some form of paid time off to head to the polls. 

“Voting should not be a luxury that only the well-off can afford,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This bill, which ensures that American workers can cast their ballots without risking their paychecks, is an important addition to the critical voting rights legislation passed by the House earlier this year.”

“The freedom to vote is sacred, and the foundation of our nation’s democracy,” said Rep. Bustos. “I’m proud to join Congressman Cartwright today to introduce the Time Off to Vote Act, critical legislation to ensure that every American worker has the ability to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Especially as states move to restrict access to the ballot box, we must take action to protect our democracy and the voters who make it strong.”

“No one should be forced to choose between earning their full paycheck or participating in our democracy. As a working mom, I know how tough it is to carve out time to vote between the demands of work, family, and life. This November, Georgia will once again be the center of the political universe. In the last two elections, countless Georgians waited in line for hours to vote. Many waited all day. The Time off to Vote Act will make it easier for working people to exercise their sacred right to vote. Everyone deserves free and fair access to the ballot box, regardless of where they work or their flexibility while on the clock,” said Rep. Williams, Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus.

“It's incredibly important that America's workers have an unbridled ability to vote in any local, state or federal election. By mandating paid leave on election days, this bill would ensure no worker has to sacrifice their wages or jeopardize their job security to exercise their sacred right to vote,” said Rep. Levin. “We need to be doing all that we can to make it easy for American workers to exercise their civic duty, and I am proud to partner with my colleagues to do just that.”

This legislation has received the support of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC; Brennan Center for Justice; Care in Action; Common Cause; End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund; Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)/GALEO Impact Fund; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; League of Conservation Voters (LCV); Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; National Association of Social Workers (NASW); National Education Association (NEA); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); UNITE HERE;; Voters of Tomorrow.

“All Americans deserve to have their voices heard and votes counted. Especially as some states pass discriminatory voter suppression laws, the Time Off to Vote Act is needed more than ever,” said Sylvia Albert, Director of Voting and Elections at Common Cause. “We commend Representative Cartwright for his leadership to protect and strengthen the freedom to vote so that ‘We the People’ can continue to have our voices heard.”

“As another important federal election fast approaches, Black and Brown Americans face the greatest assault on the freedom to vote since Jim Crow,” said Adam Lioz, Senior Policy Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “The Time Off to Vote Act is a strong addition to critical voting rights legislation the House has already passed this year. Congress must stay laser focused on delivering essential protections voters need and deserve, and must pass the full package without delay.”

“Too many voters in this country have to work when the polls are open. This is a huge deterrent to participating in democracy,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, Acting Director, Voting Rights & Elections Program at the Brennan Center. “These voters should not have to choose between casting a ballot and collecting a paycheck. The nation needs the Time Off to Vote Act.”

“No American should face the choice between earning a paycheck and exercising their right to vote. But because we do not guarantee Americans time off to vote, many face just this choice,” said AFGE. “AFGE represents thousands of employees who work long hours, scores of frontline workers on shifts around the clock, and even more who work far from home and endure long commutes. The ‘Time Off to Vote Act’ will help to ensure these employees are not prevented from exercising their right to vote because their work schedules make it difficult to get to the polls on election day. We support the ‘Time Off to Vote Act’ and look forward to its passage so that federal employees may more fully participate in our democracy.”

“LCV applauds Congressman Cartwright’s vital proposal to ensure that every eligible voter is able to get to the polls regardless of their work schedule, without fear of retaliation or lost wages,” said Doug Lindner, Advocacy Director for Judiciary & Democracy, League of Conservation Voters. “Voting is a right, not a privilege, and the Time Off to Vote Act is a long-overdue step in protecting it.”

“The right to vote is sacred and nobody should be prevented from participating in our democracy because they can’t get time off work to do it. We applaud Congressman Cartwright for his commitment to voting rights and fully support his Time Off to Vote Act,” said Tiffany Muller, president, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund.

"When working people are forced to choose between standing in a long line to vote or getting paid, our democracy suffers. As Republican lawmakers in states like Georgia, Arizona, Texas, and Wisconsin shamelessly attempt to further restrict the voting rights of Black, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and indigenous people, it is imperative that Congress pass the Time Off to Vote Act,” said SEIU. Working people turned out in record numbers in 2020, and we will do it again this fall. We know that when voting rights are under attack so is our ability to expand access to care, create good, union jobs, build a pathway to citizenship, address climate change and reimagine our justice system."

", through its program, has worked with more than a thousand companies, representing an estimated 1.8 million workers, to ensure all workers, including full time, part time, and contract workers, get the paid time off they need to participate in democracy,” said Andrea Hailey, Vote.Org CEO. “With rapidly changing rules and deadlines in all 50 states, it's high time that paid time off to vote became public policy. Nobody should have to choose between a paycheck and a vote."

“For too long, women of color have faced barriers that threaten to shut us out of the electoral process. So many women of color workers, like domestic workers -- the nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers who work in their employers' homes -- face the challenge of working in jobs where they don’t have paid time off, job security or flexible hours. The Time Off to Vote Act would ensure that this important segment of the electorate can fully take part in our democracy, have their voices heard and votes counted. No one should have to choose between a paycheck and their voting rights, and nothing should make it difficult for us to vote, including our jobs,” said Ai-jen Poo, Senior Advisor to Care in Action.

“Latino voters are much more likely to experience polling locations with long lines, extended waiting times, malfunctioning voting equipment, and unexpected closings. Legislation that requires employers to grant employees time off for voting is a step in the right direction to ensuring that Latino voters are not disenfranchised at the voting booth,” said David Garcia, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) & GALEO Impact Fund.

This legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-02), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Andre Carson (D-IN-07), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20), Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09), Steve Cohen (D-TN-09), Diana DeGette (D-CO-01), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Dwight Evans (D-PA-03), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-03), Hank Johnson (D-GA-04), Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Andy Levin (D-MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Jim McGovern (D-MA-02), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Katie Porter (D-CA-45), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam-At Large), John Sarbanes (D-MD-03), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Adam Schiff  (D-CA-28), Terri Sewell (D-AL-07), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY-07), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Nikema Williams (D-GA-05), Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24).

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.