On November 3rd, the U.S. will hold its 59th presidential election, along with state and local elections in most communities. As companies become more civically engaged, many - including ACCP - are encouraging employees to register to vote and to cast their ballots. Many companies are also creating policies to ease those processes. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic and with the current U.S. Postal Service funding crisis, as voting policies and procedures are rapidly changing state-by-state. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams have a vital role in providing their leadership with the information and avenues needed to encourage employees to vote.
As of publication, 23 states require companies to provide PTO for employees to vote. In other states, some companies are supporting early voting, especially if employees are not able to take time off to vote on Election Day. If employees are working onsite during COVID-19, companies may consider encouraging employees to cast mail-in votes to limit potential exposure within their office.
In the past, absentee and mail-in voting have also been encouraged depending on state laws. This year, companies may be less vocal about mail-in voting because of the concerns surrounding late and/or discounted ballots due to USPS funding issues. If employees are concerned, urge them to contact their local election office to learn about other ways of submitting their ballot, such as dropping it off in an official ballot box.
When educating employees on voting, companies should be sure to include information on how to register to vote, voting methods, and deadlines for all. Government websites, specifically USA.gov and the US Election Assistance Commission should be the first stop for employees looking for information on registering and voting. These will have the most updated information, such as changes in mail-in voting laws. If a company has employees in multiple districts or states, sites like Ballotpedia, Vote.org, and When We All Vote allow them to easily find their federal, state, and local election dates, as well as who and what is on their ballot. If a state requires an ID to vote, employees can visit VoteRiders for information on how to receive an ID.
Companies should not only encourage employees to vote in the presidential election, but in local and state elections as well. These elections can have a direct impact on how companies operate within their communities. The candidates elected and the ballot measures that pass or fail can impact a company and their employees in regards to healthcare options, pay, taxes, and more. The better educated employees are and the more encouraged they feel to vote locally, the more impact they can have. It’s not about telling employees how to vote but instead encouraging them to do their research and be informed on the issues.
Here are some ways companies are engaging employees in elections:
- Ensure that any company voting policies apply to all employees, regardless of how they choose to vote or their role in the workplace.
- If employees do not have access to printers or have trouble obtaining postage, help address those gaps.
- Invite voting organizations onsite to register employees to vote during the workday.
- Include voter registration, voting, and working the polls in volunteer time off policies.
- Give employees a set number of PTO, flex, or extended lunch hours each year to vote in local, state, and federal elections.
- Make the presidential election every four years a company holiday, a half day, or switch another holiday with Election Day.
- Incentivize employees through competitions such as 100% voter registration or collecting of ‘I voted’ stickers following Election Day.
- Many companies have already partnered with organizations like ElectionDay.org, Time to Vote, Rock the Vote, and Brands for Democracy. Through these nonprofits, companies can find resources specific to voter registration, offering encouragement to employees and their communities, and take pledges to prioritize voting as a pillar of their business.
Now more than ever, companies and their employees can make a difference in how government functions. It is vital companies help to remove the voting barriers so many Americans face. We have a civic duty to vote and each American should be able to exercise that right without facing penalty from their job.
Coming up in September, we will be having more conversations around voting, so keep an eye on ACCP’s events. Members, you can join the conversation now in the Communities.