How many hours off do I have to vote?

Publication: Monday, May 3, 2021 1:40 PM

Contrary to custom, the next regional elections in the Community of Madrid will not take place on a Sunday, but on a working day. The reason is that, when the Assembly is dissolved in advance, the elections must take place 54 days after their convocation, regardless of the day of the week, as established by the Electoral Law of the Community of Madrid of 1986. In this case Isabel Díaz Ayuso has decided to call the Madrilenians to the polls on March 10, the regional elections will be held on May 4, which falls on Tuesday.

The fact that polling day coincides with a working day sparks unusual interest in work permits to go and vote, since this event usually takes place on Sunday, when many citizens take advantage of their day off.

In this sense, both in the case of employees and in those of public administrations, measures will be taken so that voters “can have up to four free hours during their usual hours to exercise their right to vote, which will be remunerated” , as specified in this Royal Decree of 1999. The reason is that the right to vote is a constitutional right, referred to in article 23 of the Spanish Constitution.

How many hours correspond in each case?

On this legal basis, applicable at national level, each Autonomous Community can introduce slight modifications. In the case of Madrid, workers have more or less free hours to go and vote depending on the length of time the working hours of each overlap with the vote. Thus, for employees working full time, the permits are as follows, as announced in this provision of the BOCM for the year 2015:

-Workers whose working hours do not coincide with the opening hours of the polling stations (from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.), or do so for less than 2 hours: they are not entitled to paid leave.

-Workers whose working hours coincide in 2 hours or more and less than 4 hours with the opening hours of the polling stations: 2 hours of paid leave.

-Workers whose working hours coincide in 4 hours or more and less than 6 hours with the opening hours of the polling stations: 3 hours of paid leave.

-Workers whose working hours coincide in 6 hours or more with the opening hours of the polling stations: 4 hours of paid leave.

In the case of part-time employees, the hours of leave will be proportional to those of full-time employees, depending on the coincident hours and the hours worked. In addition, those in Madrid who work far from their usual address (to such an extent that they cannot go to vote in person), will take advantage of these same hours to vote by mail.

Of course, companies retain the right to distribute the free hours among their workers as they deem necessary, so that the permits do not negatively affect the activity of the company, as indicated in the royal decree. Therefore, the worker does not have to unilaterally decide when to vote. In addition, the company may require proof that the right to vote has been exercised during these holiday hours, which may be requested at the corresponding polling station at the time of voting.

On the other hand, workers called to be members of polling stations or who act as auditors will be able to benefit from paid leave during their entire working day, in addition to 5 hours the next day. For proxies, the authorization corresponds only to the day of the vote.

Time slots due to the coronavirus

In addition to the hours of leave granted at work, the Community of Madrid has created a system of time slots so that each group can vote in a given period, as long as compatibility with the work allows it. In this way, three bands were formed for the 4-M, as happened during the autonomous elections in Catalonia:

-People over 65: from 10 a.m. to noon

-People with coronavirus or showing symptoms: from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

-Rest of voters: from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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