One of the biggest issues facing our country today is our low voter turnout, particularly around midterm elections. In 2014, only 37% of eligible voters cast ballots–the lowest since WWII when 34% did so. Given today’s political climate, many are hoping the 2018 midterms will be different. Public awareness campaigns like Get Out the Vote aim to empower Americans to exercise their right, regardless of political affiliation. Across social media, public figures ranging from the likes of musicians to actors are urging citizens to vote on November 6th.
To put it plainly: if 50% of voters vote in this year’s midterm elections, it will be the highest midterm turnout in a century. There are 435 House and 35 Senate seats up for grabs, in addition to most governors and hundreds of Mayors and local seats. The midterms will influence our nation through 2030 and beyond. Voting is one way we can play a role in shaping the country and world we want to live in, and yet our ability to do so can be limited by the constraints of work, family and other commitments. To make it easier for employees to show up on Election Day, companies like Patagonia and Walmart are closing stores or prohibiting meetings tomorrow. Additionally, check out a few ways you can get out the vote at your own place of work.
1. Host a “Get Ready for Election Day” staff party
Voter registration deadlines are a looming constraint when it comes to getting out the vote, with many states requiring voters to register by early or mid-October to participate in the midterm elections. In addition to hosting an event(s) in the months leading up to an election where employees can check their registration status, register to vote and learn about their voting rights, it’s a great idea to host an event the day before for final preparations. Make sure employees know their polling place location and hours and have a plan for getting there during the day. Also consider providing resources, like a voting fact sheet and ballot cheat sheet to help employees easily prepare for Election Day.
2. Shorten hours of operation on Election Day
A huge barrier to getting to the polls on Election Day is time. One way to encourage voter participation among employees is to shorten the work day by even just an hour in the morning and evening. Workers will then have the opportunity to reach a poll site on Election Day without drastically altering their schedule. If possible, also consider allowing employees to work from home or allow flexible break time, so that it’s easier for them to make it to a polling site.
3. Frame voting as a priority from the top down and the bottom up
Whether you’re an entry-level worker or a senior level employee you do have agency to stress the importance of voting at your company. Though it’s certainly easier to shorten business hours as a person in a position of power, you can approach your boss or coworkers with the above ideas and a plan to encourage turnout. No matter your position, do what you can to foster a company culture where voting is prioritized!