The right to vote is a privilege this country fought hard to earn but unfortunately, the US shows some of the lowest turnout rates amongst developed democracies. While there are many reasons for the low turnout rates, being “too busy” or having a conflicting schedule is cited as one of the most common reasons for failing to vote.
So, that can businesses and individuals do to make a difference? One of the easiest things we can do to support ourselves and our democracy is to ensure that employees are given paid time off to vote and are encouraged to do so.
Currently, more than one-third of U.S. states do not have laws in place to ensure that employees are paid for the time they need to take off from work in order to vote. That means an hourly worker would have to forgo 5% of their earnings to take two hours from their schedule to vote.
Nobody should have to choose between their paycheck and their right to vote.
Businesses have the opportunity to ensure a better turnout. Right now, your company can join the Make Time to Vote Campaign and support the Time Off to Vote Act by logging your business’ actions with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a network of businesses and business groups that are committed to sustainability and are working for policy change. This council will be sharing their results with lawmakers and hope to entitle employees with two hours of paid leave on the day of a federal election in order to vote. They want to let America know how your employees are supported and encouraged to vote.
I’m proud to share that Staach offers a minimum of two hours paid time off for employees to vote. Information on voter registration, polling locations, and ballot info has been shared with all employees and posted in our common areas. To ensure the message gets across to everyone, this information is shared multiple times. Supervising managers have been reminded about the details of the policies and are directed to remind staff of these policies during weekly employee meetings. We have shared our information with the ASBC, signed on to the Make Time to Vote Campaign, and are planning social media posts all while reaching out to fellow businesses to encourage them to do the same.
What is your company doing?
Anne Sherman is the Director of Sustainability at Staach, an innovative and multidisciplinary design and furniture manufacturing company, Anne works to create lasting value by carefully integrating the firm’s business aspirations with its social and environmental ethics. She currently serves as the Co-Chair for B Local Boston.