Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Employees of the State of North Carolina can use up to three days (24 hours) of paid time off to volunteer with their County Board of Elections to help with this fall’s elections, the Office of State Human Resources announced.

In recognition of the N.C. State Board of Elections’ concerns about having enough poll workers to serve constituents effectively related to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Human Resources Director Barbara Gibson granted a variance to Community Service Leave (CSL) to encourage more state employees to serve as poll workers.

The goal is to help all County Boards of Elections recruit adequate poll workers, making it easier for North Carolina voters to vote during Early Voting, October 15-31, or on Election Day, November 3.

Community Service Leave cannot be used for electioneering or campaigning for political parties, candidates or nonprofit organizations involved in election activities. Any employees interested in these activities must be approved by their supervisor for vacation leave.

“Public service employees are inherently driven to support the people of our state,” said Gibson, who authorized the one-time exception due to the pandemic. “We want to make it possible for more employees statewide to volunteer with their County Board of Elections to minimize the long voter lines and other issues experienced nationally due to a shortage of poll workers.”

North Carolina is among several states that recognize the need to fully staff local election precincts and allow employees to take administrative leave for this purpose.

Through its Democracy Heroes campaign, the State Board of Elections has recruited more than 21,000 potential election workers for the 2020 general election. However, some North Carolina counties still need help finding workers.

“The State Board greatly appreciates all those who have stepped up to serve their communities and state during the pandemic,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We thank our partners in state government for their assistance in helping us ensure safe, secure elections in 2020.”

State employees and others interested in learning if their County Board of Elections needs volunteers are encouraged to visit the State Board of Elections Democracy Heroes portal. Contact information for County Boards of Elections also is available on the State Board of Elections website.

To accept assignments from a County Board of Elections for Election Day, poll workers must be registered to vote in their home county and serve in their home county. Poll workers do not have to be a registered voter and may work in any county during Early Voting.

Supervisor approval will be required for state employees to use this special Community Service Leave and participants will need to provide proof of time worked at the polls to their supervisor. Because compensation of poll workers is mandated, state employees who are needed by the County Board of Elections to perform tasks related to Early Voting or Election Day will be permitted to accept compensation.

State employees interested in using CSL to serve as a poll worker are encouraged to review FAQs posted to the Office of State Human Resources website (https://oshr.nc.gov/community-service-leave-poll-workers-faqs) or contact their Agency’s Human Resources Office.

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