Many working people find it difficult to find time to vote, especially if they have family responsibilities outside of work. One of the most common reasons given by Americans for not voting is "work obligations." You can assist your employees in exercising their rights by instituting voter-friendly policies in your workplace, such as providing paid voting time or declaring Election Day a company holiday. Learn about your state's voting leave laws, and go above and beyond by providing your employees with additional support and resources to make voting as simple as possible.
Method 1 Giving Your Employees Time Off to Vote
1. Look up your state's voting rights laws. There is no federal law in the United States that requires employers to give their employees time off to vote. Many states, however, have their own voting leave laws. These laws can vary greatly from one state to the next, so make sure you're in compliance by researching the laws in your state.
Employers in Arizona, for example, are required to provide up to three hours of paid leave time to their employees in order for them to vote. The employee must give at least one day's notice before voting.
Some cities or counties may have their own voting leave ordinances, so check the laws in your area as well.
2. Make a policy that is unique to your workplace. Whatever your state's laws are, it's a good idea to create clear guidelines for your company's employees. This will help ensure that your employees' needs are met fairly and consistently, whether they vote early, absentee, or on Election Day. Sit down and draught a policy that includes items such as:
A summary of your state's voting leave laws and how you intend to comply with them.
How many hours off do you intend to give employees in order for them to vote?
Whether or not you will provide paid time off
Whether your employees must notify you in advance of when they intend to vote.
What days and times will your employees be able to participate in voting-related activities?
3. Provide written notice to your employees of their voting rights. Explain to your employees their rights and how you intend to accommodate those rights. Create a clear explanation of your company policy as well as local voting laws and email, mail, or hand it out to all of your employees.
These policies should be included in your employee handbook.
Encourage your employees to ask any questions they may have about the voting policies of your company.
4. Allow your employees at least two hours off to vote. The length of time it takes to vote can be unpredictable, and the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated and uncertain the voting process more than ever. Allow your employees at least two hours off for voting, and more if possible.
Keep in mind that the time it takes an employee to vote can be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as how far they have to travel from work to their polling place, whether or not they need to use public transportation, how long the lines are, and what kinds of extra safety measures they may have to deal with as a result of the coronavirus.
If your company policy already specifies a time limit for voting, consider extending it or eliminating time limits entirely. This will make dealing with the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic easier for your employees.
5. If possible, provide paid voting leave to reduce employee hardship. Even if they are able to take time off, many employees are disheartened at the prospect of losing much-needed income while travelling to the polls and voting. If possible, provide paid leave so that your employees can exercise their right to vote without financial hardship.
Employers in some states are required by law to provide a certain number of hours of paid voting leave. Even if it is not required in your state, consider incorporating paid voting leave into your company policy.
6. Allow time for early voting as well as voting on Election Day. Your employees will be more likely to vote if they have as many options as possible. Instead of limiting your employees to voting on a single day, allow them to vote on any date that is most convenient for them.
Most states provide some form of early voting, which can begin as early as 50 days before the election. Vote.org has an early voting calendar that shows when and if early voting is available in your state: https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/.
You can also give your employees time off to drop off or mail in their absentee ballots if your state allows it. As of 2020, a few states have gone entirely to mail-in voting.
One option is to provide your employees with an unspecified number of "civic hours" that they can use for voting-related activities whenever they want.
7. Make Election Day a corporate holiday to encourage employees to vote. Even if you allow time off for early voting, it's a good idea to make Election Day a special occasion at your workplace. Give your employees the entire day off and encourage them to vote, or set aside at least part of the day for them to vote.
Offering an Election Day work holiday allows your employees to participate in the voting process in other ways. For example, if they are not scheduled to work, they can volunteer at polling places, drive other voters to polling places, or even babysit their friends' and colleagues' children while they vote.
8. Go above and beyond what the law requires. Whatever your state's voting leave laws are, show leadership by going above and beyond the bare minimum. Provide extra time and support to your employees to ensure that they have every opportunity to exercise their rights. You will not only benefit your employees, but you will also set a good example for other employers in your community.
Add your company to ElectionDay.org's list of voter-friendly businesses. Share information about what you're doing to make voting more convenient for your employees so that other civic-minded businesses can follow in your footsteps!
Method 2 Providing Information and Resources
1. Distribute information to your employees about voting in your state. Give your employees information on when, how, and where to vote to empower them. Share voter registration rules and deadlines, vote by mail rules and deadlines, election dates, an early voting calendar, a polling place locator, voter ID information, and other resources. All of this information is available at https://www.vote.org/.
Because of COVID-19, voting and election rules are changing quickly, so provide a reliable resource for your employees to check for any updates in their state, such as https://www.vote.org/covid-19/.
You can also point your employees to websites that contain useful information about upcoming elections, candidates, and ballot measures. Vote.org, BallotReady.org, and USA.gov's "Voting and Elections" pages are all good places to start.
2. Organize a voter registration drive at your place of employment. Make voting as simple as possible for your employees by allowing them to register from the comfort of their workplace! A company-wide voter registration drive is an excellent way to encourage voting and foster a civic spirit in the workplace.
Contact a local organisation, such as your local League of Women Voters branch, that has prior experience organising voter registration drives. They can assist you in making plans and gathering the materials required for a successful drive.
Getting people to register can be as simple as having them fill out an online form. Set up a computer to access the Vote.org registration website: https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/.
You can also embed free or paid Vote.org tools from https://www.vote.org/technology/ on your internal or external company communications platforms.
Identify #VoteReady Captains on your team who are appropriate for your organisational structure and will serve as leaders in sharing this information internally and externally.
Make the experience more enjoyable by holding competitions to see which department can register the most voters. Alternatively, you can provide your employees with small prizes for registering, such as a sticker, pen, or button.
3. Assist eligible employees in requesting absentee ballots. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many states are relaxing their rules regarding absentee or mail-in voting. If your employees are concerned about voting in person, encourage them to apply for an absentee ballot if your state allows it.
Inform your employees that they can use Vote.org to request an absentee ballot and look up important vote-by-mail deadlines.
Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, and California will begin automatically sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters in 2020.
4. Make printers, postage, childcare, and other resources available to employees who may be lacking. Some employees may be discouraged from voting because they lack access to the necessary materials and resources. Reach out to your employees and assist them in gaining access to tools that will make voting easier for them. You could, for example, distribute voter registration forms or absentee ballot applications, or provide your employees with free access to a printer so they can print their own.
Give your employees postage-paid envelopes so they can mail in their ballots or registration forms.
On Election Day, organise a shuttle or bus to transport workers with limited transportation options to the polls.
Set up a company-sponsored childcare and/or eldercare programme for employees who will be absent from work on or before Election Day.
5. During the COVID-19 pandemic, disseminate information about voting safely. The coronavirus pandemic, like so many other things, has had an impact on voting. Give your employees up-to-date information on how the virus has impacted voting in your state. You can get the most up-to-date information by visiting your local election website or clicking on the links provided here: https://www.vote.org/covid-19/.
If your employees intend to vote in person, encourage them to read the CDC's safety guidelines. Wearing a mask in public, staying at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from others as much as possible, and washing or sanitising your hands frequently are all examples.
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