Treating Election Day as the Holiday It Is
At Media Cause impact is our North Star. Day in and day out, we accelerate the impact of organizations and people doing good in the world. We work to help drive change in nonprofits that are fighting on the lines of various issue areas such as the environment, local community, health, animal rights, education, and human rights.
As an organization, it’s equally as important to us to support an engaged internal team as it is to create impact for our clients.
This year has brought about some unprecedented challenges for everyone’s personal and professional lives, quite literally blurring the lines between work and home life. And stress and anxiousness have manifested in ways we never would have imagined last year. We believe a core principle of every organization should be continually adapting to support its teams professionally and personally, including doing our part in reducing systemic barriers to participating in our larger civic society through voting.
This election marks our third year in having election days be a companywide, paid half-day off, while also canceling all internal meetings. With many people (95 million Americans) electing to submit their ballots before Election Day we know that while people may not need the time to physically vote in person, our team can use the time volunteering, following the election news, or taking a mental health nap. And, that’s just as important.
For any company out there looking to implement similar policies in the coming years, there are some helpful resources out there for adopting vote-friendly policies. While there are no one-policy-fits-all approach (and every org is different) Vote.org recommends a combination of the following to support its employees’ rights to vote:
PROVIDE PAID TIME OFF TO VOTE ON AND/OR BEFORE ELECTION DAY
- Company policy should apply to employees voting on Election Day, those who choose to vote early in-person, and any staff who dropped off an absentee ballot.
- The time it takes to vote has always been unpredictable, and this year will be even more uncertain due to social distancing requirements at polling places, and changes to polling and dropbox locations. The best policy here will not be time-bound but will take into account the unique challenges facing voters in this election cycle.
- If your company has offered hourly policies in previous election cycles, the hours offered this year should be extended, and should apply to early voting periods as well as Election Day.
- In order to accommodate both Election Day and early voting options, you may consider offering a certain number of “civic hours” that may be used at any time to vote.
- If your company has an unlimited PTO policy, institute a “no meetings” day on Election Day.
ENCOURAGE VOTING BY MAIL
- Provide information, resources, and tools to ensure any employee who is eligible to vote by mail has requested their ballot.
- For some employees, access to a printer may be an obstacle in completing the application request process. Similarly, obtaining postage may also be a problem. Companies can help cover these gaps for their workforce.
MAKE ELECTION DAY A HOLIDAY
- With more employees voting by mail or voting in person during early voting, it may seem less important to observe Election Day as a holiday, but in fact, the opposite is true. There may still be many employees who need to vote on November 3rd or drop off their absentee ballots. For those who are able to vote before Election Day, there are myriad opportunities for them to support their own community members on the day itself.
- Giving Election Day off as a holiday for your workforce allows them to support and cheer on others as they exercise their civic duties, whether serving as poll workers, poll watchers, providing rides to the polls, volunteering for voter protection, or offering childcare support for Election Day voters and poll workers.
- While this year may bring unique challenges, not every election will. No matter what, companies can lead the way in establishing Election Day as a civic holiday, creating a culture of voting and participation for years to come.