October 7, 2020
Encouraging Your Employees to Vote
Although corporate involvement in politics is often not well received, many companies are stepping forward during the pandemic to take on a greater role in voter engagement. COVID-19 is presenting unprecedented challenges across the country including shortages of poll workers, a lack of safe, in-person polling locations, and the need to process unprecedented volumes of mail in ballots.
In order to encourage voter participation among their employees, Old Navy announced that they will pay employees to work at the polls on Election Day and Patagonia will host voter drop boxes in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Listed below are some other ideas that employers can implement to encourage voter participation:
- Distribute information about how, where, and when to vote, along with tools to register and request a ballot online. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to register online.
- Host a voter registration event or voting celebration.
- Adopt flexible schedules with no meetings on Election Day.
- Provide paid or unpaid time off to vote. Be sure to check state and local laws which may mandate employers to provide time off for voting.
- Allow employees use of printers for absentee ballot applications, as well as paying postage.
- Display notices throughout the workplace or send e-mail blasts to remind employees to vote.
- Encourage employees to offer child care, elder care or rides to the polls for others in their communities to vote on Election Day.
- Provide paid time off for employees to train as poll workers.
Statistics provided by the US Census Bureau indicate an increase in voter turnout from 20 percent in 2014 to 26 percent in 2018 among individuals between 18 to 29 years old. According to a Gallup survey released in mid-July enthusiasm for voting among this age group has been fueled by concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and racial inequality. Despite the increase in voter turnout, many individuals surveyed expressed concern about the availability of information. For example, 75% of young adults reported a lack of personal experience with voting by mail and over one-third -- more than 15 million potential voters – reported that they lacked vital information about how to vote. This is yet another opportunity for employers to close the information gap and encourage voter participation within their workforce.
Sources: SHRM, “10 Ways to Help Employees Vote” Center for American Progress, “17 Ways Companies Can Help Americans Vote Safely” Gallup, “Lack of Voting Information Could Hamper Youth Turnout”
HR/AA consultants are available to work with you on a project, interim or ongoing basis including assistance with understanding, implementing and administering best practices related to the current COVID-19 challenges we are facing.