Advocacy Continues on Mandated Paid Leave on Election Day
April 17, 2019
A provision in the recently enacted state budget requires that all employers, including school districts, provide up to three hours of paid leave to employees to vote in non-district elections. This unwelcome change has provoked many questions and concerns from district leaders, who will need to implement this for the first time in conjunction with the June consolidated primary (unless there is a special election called before then).
NYSSBA Governmental Relations is continuing to pursue legislative and regulatory actions that might provide better understanding of what this means, as well as to roll back some of the worst implications of this change.
It is important to note that this was an Executive priority proposal. While every effort is being made to reverse this requirement, it would be disingenuous to suggest that changes requiring Executive approval are likely, at least in the short term.
However, as we explore all options, NYSSBA Governmental Relations Staff wants to share what we do (and don't) know at this point, and encourage districts to share questions and concerns as they arise so we can integrate them into our advocacy.
- This requirement does not apply to school district elections. This requirement applies to those elections overseen by the State Board of Elections, including state and federal primaries and general elections, town and village primaries and general elections and, special elections at these levels. NYSSBA has asked the Board of Elections to provide a full list or calendar of the impacted elections.
- The State Board of Elections is the agency that has oversight over implementation. Because this requirement is in Election Law and applies to all employers, there is no clear regulatory or oversight role for the State Education Department.
- The entitlement is up to three hours, not three hours. Initial analysis has indicated that the entitlement is only for the time needed. The statutory language explicitly says "up to" three hours. However, it is less clear what authority an employer has to verify how much time is needed, or even if an employee took time to vote. The statutory language is silent on that question. NYSSBA has requested explicit guidance on this issue.
- The leave is limited to the beginning or the end of the work day, to be selected at the employer's discretion, unless it is mutually agreed to change it.
- Employees are required to give a minimum of 2 days notice if they intend to use this time. However, the statute says days and does not specify if those are business or calendar days. NYSSBA has sought specific guidance on this issue, and specified that two days is inadequate and two calendar days would simply be unworkable.
Advocacy Day - District Choice on Schools as Polling Places
NYSSBA members have continued to raise concerns about the use of school district buildings as polling places and wish to have the right to decline that designation. Legislation has been introduced that would allow districts to decline use of their buildings for voting in state, federal and local elections. This bill (A.4743, Galef) would also allow districts to move school district elections to a building other than a school building.
NYSSBA is planning an advocacy day on Tuesday, April 30th to promote this important legislation. If your district would be interested in participating in this event, please contact Belinda Heckler at 518-783-3742 or Belinda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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