A new movement launched two weeks ago that encourages voter turnout at national elections by asking companies across the U.S. to give employees Election Day off, and dozens of companies are already signing on. Vote.org launched the ElectionDay.org initiative, a non-partisan movement, with the goal of increasing voter turnout by the November 2018 mid-term elections.
The last mid-term elections in 2014 had the lowest voter turnout in seven decades, with only 36.3 percent of the country voting. According to a Pew Research Center poll, 35 percent of voters who didn’t vote in 2014 abstained due to scheduling conflicts with school or work.
This is where ElectionDay.org comes in.
ElectionDay.org is asking companies to either give their employees the entire November 2018 election day off from work or two hours off, fully paid, for the purpose of democracy. The pitch is working. So far, dozens of companies have signed on, including Pinterest, Lyft, GoFundMe, Change.org, Kiva, Dropbox, Asana, Lumi and more.
“Voting is essential to a healthy democracy, and we have always encouraged our employees to take the time they need to vote,” says Change.org founder and CEO Ben Rattray. “This year, we’re taking a step further by joining ElectionDay.org and making Election Day an official company holiday at Change.org – and we hope to be joined by the many other companies we know believe in the importance of civic participation.”
“We allow for full flexibility to work remote for part or entire voting day so that our team members have the time to exercise their civic duty without scheduling stress. It’s critical to us that our team knows how much we value their rights to participate on voting day,” says Jesse Genet, co-founder of Lumi.
Recognizing that employers are not always keen to give employees more holidays, ElectionDay.org encourages “replacing” holidays with Election Day.
“We have great news: you don’t need to create a new holiday,” says ElectionDay.org. “We’re big fans of simply replacing Columbus Day. If you already skip that one, Presidents’ Day is a great day to lend to patriotism. Or merge the celebration with Veteran’s Day, which is often within a week of Election Day. Floating holidays, volunteer holidays, half days or no meeting days.. plenty of options can do the trick.”
Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of Asana, signed his company up: “Representation matters, and nowhere more so than in government. Ensuring that every voice is heard is a fundamental part of a legitimate democratic process–without which, a democracy is not truly a democracy. As employers, we can help tackle the #1 reason people self-report not voting: that it ‘conflicts with work or school.'”
Signing up to participate in the movement is the ultimate pro-America branding move companies can take, as it infers a dedication to democracy and the welfare of the country. As the ElectionDay.org website exalts, when a business signs up to participate, “It means you’re committed to giving your employees dedicated time to vote on Election Day, as a full day, half day, flex day, or no-meetings day, and encouraging them to take it.
“It means your employees can celebrate their power to vote without using personal days or sick days- because it shouldn’t cost money to vote.
“It means your company has decided to update your annual holiday calendar to include Election Day.
“It means you’re ready to party down for democracy on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday in November.”
In addition to asking companies to give their employees time off to vote, ElectionDay.org provides resources to register to vote, check your voter registration status, apply for an absentee ballot, and get election reminders.
Over the years, various movements and petitions have called to make Election Day a national holiday. However, the reality is that in 241 years, the federal government has never attempted to pass legislation to make Election Day a holiday.
The solution then is perhaps another much-praised American trait: entrepreneurialism.
If the federal government won’t give Americans time off to vote, then the answer must come from the ground up as companies give workers time off to “party down for democracy.”
If you want to help increase voter turnout, share this article with your company and encourage company managers to learn more at ElectionDay.org.