Can I Vote by Absentee Ballot if I Work During Voting Hours on Election Day?
If your working hours stand between you and the ballot box, you may have other options for voting if you plan ahead.
How to Vote if You Work on Election Day
You have every intention of showing up to cast your ballot in person on Election Day, but unexpected developments at your job prevent you from getting to your voting site while the polls are open. You may have unpredictable work hours, be asked to pick up an extra shift, or need to stay late.
Whatever the case, if there’s a chance your work may interfere with your ability to make it to your polling location, can you still vote? Yes, you may be eligible to vote with a little advanced preparation.
Meet Julia Kempner - Unexpected gig work will not prevent her from voting
Julia Kempner is a certified pro make-up artist based in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to her steady employment in the cosmetic industry, Julia has her own thriving freelance make-up business as well. While her immersion in her artistry is uplifting and fulfilling, her work schedule can be unpredictable.
In her conversation with U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote), Julia Kempner describes how she manages to vote while juggling her busy work schedule.
Julia, let’s start off discussing what it’s like to be a make-up artist. What kinds of jobs do make-up artists hold?
Hello! Happy to share a little about my experience working as a freelance makeup artist in NYC. Makeup artists, along with other creatives such as photographers, hair stylists, designers, and videographers, often work on gigs that arise suddenly and via connections.
Living in NY means there are many types of gigs that pop up all over the city. These often include in-home appointments, commercial shoots, event makeup applications, bridal applications, makeup for TV/film/music videos, personal shoots, and more.
This field sounds very engaging with so many types of opportunities. A person could end up working morning, day, and night. Weekdays and weekends. What does your work schedule typically look like - if there is a typical schedule?
As a creative freelancer, there’s truly no set schedule! While most bookings are scheduled a bit in advance, some of the most exciting opportunities arise when you least expect, and you have to make yourself available at the drop of a hat! As you mentioned, services may be needed early in the morning or late at night, often due to budget constraints (it’s always cheaper for producers/photographers/clients to book their locations during off-peak hours!)
What kind of transportation do you use when you’re working in these situations? How far have you needed to travel when you’re freelancing?
I travel all over the city for bookings, so the NY MTA is my (often stubborn) friend. Given I live a bit of a walk away from my local stations, my commutes tend to take approximately an hour to and fro the location. Total, that’s usually upwards of 2 hours of commuting per work day.
Many of the highest paying gigs are in surrounding areas like Connecticut and New Jersey, so there are certainly times when I have to leave the city/state unexpectedly for work.
So not only may you be working a lot of hours or unpredictable hours, you may find yourself at a job site that is far from your polling location. Those combined circumstances could make it tricky for you to be able to vote in person on Election Day.
Is it important to you to vote?
Absolutely, getting to my polling location on Election Day is certainly not a guarantee for me. However, I cannot understate how important it is to vote. In a world and at a time when conflicts feel too often out of our hands, exercising the right to vote provides us each an opportunity to make an individual impact on our futures!
Yes! Voting is indeed such an invaluable tool to shape the direction of our lives.
Voting by absentee ballot may be an option instead of trying to get to your polling place in person on Election Day.
Some states allow folks to vote this way without an excuse, while others require an approved reason. Voters can look up their state’s rules at US Vote. In your case, you can get an absentee ballot if you’ll be out of NYC on Election Day.
If this circumstance applies to you, there are different options for returning your completed ballot. Would you be more likely to drop it off at an early voting site or mail in the ballot?
I would definitely check out some of those early voting sites. Given there are so many across the city, there’s bound to be one close or on the way to an upcoming gig! If not though, I’ll certainly always have time to mail it in from home!
Freelancers, gig workers or shift workers with unpredictable work schedules have a lot to gain from US Vote Voter Accounts. Your secure voter account is easy to make and will safely store all your voting information in case you need to apply for an absentee ballot due to your work schedule. You can also sign up for reminders about election dates and deadlines if you don't have time to track this important information.