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Oct 29

City Manager's Message Oct. 29: Employee voting and political activity

Posted on October 29, 2020 at 10:35 AM by Don Mann

As we are little less than a week away from Election Day, I wanted to share with you some important information with you whether you are an early voter, mailed in your ballot, or will go to the polls on Nov. 3.
 
Political Activity:
Chapter 2 of the Personnel Policy Manual states: “An employee shall not directly or indirectly use or seek to use the authority or influence of the position/job to control or modify the political action of others.  An employee shall not engage in political activity during duty hours.” Additionally, an employee shall not use City property to engage in such activities even if outside of duty hours. 

Political activities include but are not limited to soliciting votes or endorsements on behalf of a political candidate or political campaign; expressing opinions privately or publicly, in person or online, on political subjects and candidates; displaying a political picture, sign, sticker, badge, or button; participating in the activities of, or contributing financially to, a political party, candidate, campaign or an organization that supports a political candidate or campaign; attending or participating in a political convention, caucus, rally, or other political gathering; initiating, circulating or signing a political petition; engaging in fund-raising activities for any political party, candidate or campaign; acting as a recorder, watcher, challenger or similar officer at the polls on behalf of a political party, candidate or campaign; using social media to inform the public about campaign activities or in support of a candidate, campaign, political party or any organization that supports a political candidate or campaign; or becoming a political candidate. You may request any accrued leave with the exception of sick leave to participate in such activities during duty hours. 

 
Voting:
City employees have a right to actively participate in political activity when off duty, out of uniform and not on City premises.  Although City operations will remain open on Election Day, we want to ensure that everyone who is registered to vote has an opportunity to do so.  We also realize that the pandemic may have created limited time to exercise your right to vote due to responsibilities outside of work. If you are unable to take advantage of early voting or voting by mail, you can request time off to travel to and from your polling location to vote during your duty hours beginning today, Oct. 29, and through Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Unless you are choosing to vote towards the end of your shift, you are expected to return to work. You must schedule the time off from your immediate supervisor and/or department head as soon as possible to ensure minimal disruption in the delivery of city services.

In order to receive this time off with pay, you must submit proof from the Virginia Department of Elections website (or the elections website of the state you voted in) that you voted during your duty hours no later than Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. This time off is intended to cover only the time necessary to vote. You may have heard reference to a set period of time allowed. While we absolutely want every employee to have the time to vote, the amount of time needed may vary depending on when and where you go. Those who can vote at early voting centers today or tomorrow will likely have much shorter wait times. Those who vote on Election Day may encounter longer waits. Department heads will ensure that employees get the time needed, but we count on all of you to do your part by only taking the time actually needed to vote.

 
If you are working as an appointed election officer, you are not required to use leave but must provide reasonable notice to your supervisor that you will be absent from work.
 
Voting is all of our civic responsibility — a right that, unfortunately, was not always afforded to everyone. Let’s do our part to make sure our voices are heard! 

Have a great day!

— Mary

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