Can I Reward My Employees for Voting?

The short answer is no, unless you're willing to offer your whole staff a paid day off.

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Collage of red, white, and blue stickers saying,
That little old lady manning the polls on November 3 is about the only person who can hand out stickers to your staff when they vote. / Steven Heap ©123RF.com

We’ve already encouraged owners and managers to help their employees register to vote. Now that mail-in ballots have begun landing in voters’ homes, we suspect most people are anxious to take pen to paper, channel their school-age, standardized test taking self, complete that ballot, and get it returned ASAP.

Whether that’s because they’re suddenly concerned about the ability of the USPS to handle the volume of ballots (which, as a reminder, Colorado’s postal workers have been doing—without the apparent collapse of civilization—since 2013) or because they just want the endless phone and text bank messages to stop blowing up their phones, the results are the same. Early voting reduces lines and wait times around the state. And in an intense election cylcle with voters in some areas of the country already reporting wait times of six to ten hours to cast their ballots, Colorado is encouraging folks to vote before Election Day on Tuesday, November 3.

Still, some people like the personal touch of showing up at a polling station, and it seems there’s a growing trend of restaurants giving employees all of Election Day off. Some have even offered it as a paid holiday, according to a recent article at The Counter, a nonprofit newsroom.

Employers can, of course provide a paid day off to all their workers at any time; if you’re so inclined to do so on November 3, it’s full steam ahead. But if you’re wondering whether you can legally motivate your staff to do their civic duty by providing them other benefits like free meals or drinks, you’re out of luck. §1-13-720 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) makes it illegal for a person or business to offer “money or other valuable consideration” to anyone in bid to get them to vote (or not vote).

Huge nerds (that’s us) can check out the actual statute here. You may also want to take a gander at CRS §1-13-719, which clarifies that you can’t strong-arm your employees into voting for your pick, and that you may not post any threatening handbills in a boardinghouse (or factory, workshop, mine, or mill) within 90 days of an election.

Talk to us! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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