The Center for American Progress (CAP) and Business for America have released a new brief that outlines 17 ways in which the business community can help boost voter turnout and ensure that Americans can vote safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Time to Vote Movement
Private companies are taking a greater role in elections and voter engagement. Back in February, a coalition of U.S. companies representing more than two million workers announced their participation in a nonpartisan movement called Time to Vote, with the goal of increasing voter participation in the November 3, 2020, general election. The idea is that nobody should have to choose between earning a paycheck and casting a ballot. Time to Vote companies play an important role in supporting their employees’ ability to make sure they are registered to vote and have time to study their ballots and perform their civic duty of voting.
CEOs and business owners who join Time to Vote commit to making accommodations for workers that help enable them to vote, such as paid time off on Election Day, making Election Day a day without meetings, or providing resources for mail-in ballots and early voting.
At the time of the February announcement, 383 companies employing workers in every state in the country had already signed up for Time to Vote, including Best Buy, DICK'S Sporting Goods, Farmers Insurance, Gap Inc., Glossier Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kaiser Permanente, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, PayPal, Patagonia, REI Co-op, Target, VF Corporation, Walmart, and Warby Parker. As of September 11, the list of Time to Vote companies has grown to more than 800 employers.
What Can Employers Do?
Retailers such as Old Navy have already attracted attention by offering to pay employees to work at polls on Election Day. Coca-Cola has declared November 3 a company holiday. In 2018, companies such as Spotify and Twitter displayed reminders in their apps to encourage users to vote on Election Day. Lyft and Lime have offered to provide some users with free rides to polls for the 2020 election. Patagonia will be hosting voter drop boxes in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, while New Balance and Outdoor Research will be donating thousands of face masks.
More Ways to Help
There are many ways companies can help, including these additional suggestions made in the briefing:
- Display notifications or pop-up reminders to tell people how to register and remind them of the local deadlines
- Offer spaces for ballot drop boxes
- Offer large spaces to be used as polling locations
- Help notify employees about voter registration
- Host voter registration and absentee ballot application drives at high-traffic locations
- Help educate audiences, customers, and employees about voting by mail and early voting
- Provide absentee ballot applications to employees or customers, where possible
- Provide paid time off for employees to vote
- Lend mail-processing equipment to election officials
- Provide safe and free transportation to the polls
- Provide support and protective gear to voters waiting in line
"There is a lot that companies can do to help us have safe and fair elections," said Sarah Bonk, one of the authors of the brief. "And businesses that help encourage voter participation during the COVID-19 pandemic can boost their brand awareness and build goodwill with customers and employees. They can also play a critical role in strengthening trust in our democracy, thus helping to reduce polarization in our national politics."
For more information, view the brief in its entirety: 17 Ways Companies Can Help Americans Vote Safely.