As evidenced by social media, television, and the noticeable increase in yard signs and robotexts, America’s upcoming election is the number one topic on everyone’s minds. Whether it be at dinner or in a boardroom, there is much debate about when and where it is appropriate to discuss politics. However, one issue remains nonpartisan, and that is the importance of exercising your right to vote and empowering others to do the same.
Voting has a long and labored history in this country. For centuries, it’s been debated who can and cannot exercise this right, often forcing the disenfranchised to take extraordinary measures to challenge the status quo and bring about monumental change. To put it simply, voting is a right that shouldn’t be taken lightly. What’s more, government officials have the ability to affect countless aspects of everyday life. By selecting a candidate that best aligns with their personal views and values, eligible citizens are claiming control over their future.
Voting may be the cornerstone of our democracy, but recent studies show that around 100 million Americans, or 44.5% of the voter population, don’t exercise this right. Reports examining the reasons behind this statistic reveal that many non-voters feel they don’t have the time or resources needed to cast a vote. Business leaders are in a unique position to eliminate these barriers by sharing the tools and information with employees throughout the voting season. Here are some key ways to make that happen:
Start the Dialogue
Politics can be too charged a topic for the workplace with the potential to cause tension between coworkers, especially as it surrounds a particular candidate or policy. But the importance of civic participation is a sentiment everyone can get behind, ultimately bringing people together. One of the main ways a business can support their employees during election season is by starting a company-wide conversation to stress the importance of voting and provide the resources needed to register, request ballots, and cast their votes.
This information can be shared easily through a well rounded internal communication program, whether that be email or mentioned during company-wide meetings. Here are some great, nonpartisan resources that cover the basics:
Sharing these resources doesn’t have to be a boring internal memo or instant message. Companies can complement their voting resources with facts about the history of voting, share information about voting-related events within the community, as well as spotlight employees that are planning to vote with a “I vote because…” series. A rounded out internal communication program encourages employees to engage, learn, and keep the importance of their vote at top-of-mind.
Time to Vote
Many countries have their elections during the weekend to increase their voter turnout, but since the US has their elections on a Tuesday, finding the time to vote has often been cited as a primary barrier to voter participation in our country. In fact, 35% of non-voters surveyed in 2014 midterms and 14% in 2016’s presidential election, skipped the polls because they were too busy or couldn’t find the time.
Taking the time out of everyday life to register and vote, can be time that is hard to find. Here are a few ways that companies across the country are offering their employees flexibility during voting season to encourage voter participation:
If your company does decide to implement one of the above, consider joining a public nonpartisan pact to share your commitment with your end-users.
Beyond providing resources and time to vote, your company can offer additional opportunities to foster a sense of community around your voting initiative, as well as amplify the importance of voting, externally. Some suggestions include: hosting voter registration drives, or sourcing volunteering opportunities to support the election.
Leading by Example
In our effort to build a voter-friendly workplace, Convene encouraged employees to have their voices heard, and encourage others to vote, in several ways:
- Convene had been regularly sharing emails and speaking in weekly town hall meetings about the importance of voting, leadership’s commitment to increasing voter participation, and voting-related policies available to all employees.
- We’ve created policies that allow employees up to four hours off to be able to vote in their preferred way, as well as one day of paid time off for all employees that volunteer to work the polls for both Early Voting and Election Day.
- Our team partnered with Vote Forward to host a virtual “letter writing party”, in order to encourage voters in swing states to register and make their own voting plan.
- Convene pledged to be a member of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group of businesses working together to encourage voting, and our CEO has made a personal pledge to the Voter Participation Center, an organization that helps people register to vote and cast their ballots.
Ultimately, there are many opportunities for leaders to foster a sense of importance for all elections: “I believe that voting is not only a right, it’s a duty, and contributing to the Voter Participation Center has been a great way to get Convene and our employees involved to make sure that the rising American electorate is registered to vote.” Co-founder and CEO of Convene, Ryan Simonetti recently shared – emphasizing Convene’s commitment to voter participation at the highest level within the organization. “I’ve been impressed by the VPC’s effectiveness in ensuring that everyone is represented by our government. This effort coupled with our own actions internally, including participating in The Big Send to encourage voter turnout, has made me optimistic that democratic reform can be possible with our support.”