Georgia House passes bill allowing time off during early voting

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Unpaid voting time would be guaranteed in Georgia

Workers would be entitled to time off to cast a ballot during early voting or on election day under a bill the Georgia House passed Thursday.

The legislation, approved on a 161-9 vote, aims to expand on a state law that already allows two hours off on election day. Under Senate Bill 129, workers could take unpaid time to vote either on election days or during three weeks of early voting.

“Hopefully it makes it easier for people to get away to vote,” said state Rep. Rob Leverett, a Republican from Elberton. “It just ensures that people are not prevented from voting because of work.”

Workers seeking time off would have to notify their employer in advance, and then the employer could decide on a time when workers could be absent, according to the bill.

The legislation also would require audits of at least one statewide contest after primary, runoff and special elections. Currently, a race is only audited after general elections every two years.

In addition, the bill would give counties two more hours — until midnight on election night — to report how many ballots have been cast, clarify that individual members of county election boards can serve on performance review panels and change the language on absentee ballot applications that says “THIS IS NOT A BALLOT.”

The legislation will next be considered for final passage by the state Senate.