As more business leaders and organizations celebrate and support civic participation in the workforce it’s evident there is strength in numbers. Companies are making it clear: involvement from the business community is essential for a healthy and balanced democracy.
Employers and businesses are uniquely positioned to increase voter turnout, as a trusted resource of nonpartisan support and voter resources. Thousands of companies already provide employees paid time off to vote and encourage consumers to cast ballots through internal reminders, social media posts, and voting-themed merchandise.
As Corporate Social Responsibility, People Operations, and Government/Policy Affairs teams begin designing voter support initiatives for 2022 Midterms, we outlined Corporate Voter Engagement Best Practices to guide leaders on supporting employees and clients leading up to the 2022 Midterms (and beyond)!
1. Provide time off to vote
Help to reduce or eliminate the choice many employees face: go to work or vote. Why not both?
In 2020, 13% of registered voters (1.7 million people) cited being too busy or having a schedule conflict as the main reason why they didn’t vote. That’s why providing time off for employees to vote has a profound impact on turnout. Business leaders increasingly agree that time off to vote makes sense: The Time To Vote coalition grew from about 400 companies in 2018 to 2,000 in 2020.
Here are four ways to support a variety of workforce types:
- Create a bank of “Civic Hours” employees can use on or before Election Day, which helps promote Early Voting
- Turn Election Day into a paid company holiday, signaling the importance of civic participation
- Open late or close early on Election Day to free up more time
- Set a “No Meetings” rule on Election Day to increase schedule flexibility
Early Voting is becoming a more popular option, thanks to increased visibility in 2020 and more states adopting vote-friendly policies.
If you are located in a state with Early Voting options (42 do) consider expanding policies to encompass this option as well. Early Voting is great for voters because it means less time spent in line, and less chance of a last-minute obstacle getting in the way on Election Day itself.
Remember: Some employees might not be able to make Early Voting or Election Day hours. They might be traveling, stationed away from the town where they’re registered – or simply prefer to vote from home.
As a trusted resource, also include information about Absentee Voting (or Vote By Mail) in your communications. Your PTO hours might also include time to mail back or drop off a completed ballot.
2. Plug voter registration into existing processes
Help remind employees to update or complete voter registration by building in registration prompts to processes they are already completing at the workplace.
In addition to ensuring work schedules don’t prevent employees from voting, there’s more you can do ahead of when voting starts. In all but one state (shoutout to North Dakota!) being registered to vote is required before showing up to cast a ballot. In most states, the registration deadline is 15-28 days* before Election Day.
Registration isn’t something that just happens once: If you move or change your legal name, you need to update your registration.
FWIW: This is one of the many contributing factors of lower turnout rates for younger voters – who move more frequently than older counterparts.
Colleges and universities have seen huge increases in student voter registration rates after making it part of the move-in and course selection processes. Northwestern University, for example, saw registration rates soar to above 90% by including it in new student and orientation registration.
Employers can implement this model, too. Building registration into existing operations makes sure everyone gets a touchpoint.
Here are three places employers can add voter registration prompts:
- Onboarding of new employees
- Online PTO requests & time-sheets
- Self-managed payroll systems (ie. JustWorks, Gusto)
*While 18 states have a “same-day registration option,” where voters can register in-person on Election Day, we suggest voters think about this as a fallback option in case something gets in the way.
3. Share voter resources & voting deadline reminders early & often
Include voting resources and reminders in regular communication channels to keep employees informed.
Registering to vote is just the first step in the voting process. Then comes following through.
One reason why would-be voters don’t end up casting ballots is they missed a deadline to request or return their absentee ballot. In some cases, they just forget to go.
In 2020, 4% of registered voters said they forgot to vote — nearly 500,000 people. In primary and local elections, with less media coverage, that number spikes.
Since registration and ballot request deadlines begin as early as one month before Election Day, include these in your elections communications schedule so people can create a voting plan that works for them.
4. Celebrate Civic Holidays – add these to your company calendar
Join the thousands of businesses, nonprofits, and universities already celebrating democratic participation!
There are now 4 official Civic Holidays, non-partisan days of action that celebrate democracy:
- National Voter Registration Day (9/20/22)
- National Voter Education Week (10/3-7/22)
- Vote Early Day (10/8/22
- Election Hero Day (11/7/22)
These are great days to share civic content or support ongoing initiatives in your community. Especially if posting on this topic is new for you, it’s an easy onramp.
Why else are these holidays effective? People are more likely to complete tasks when they are time-bound with clear deadlines.
While people can check their voter registration status at any time, a key benefit of events like National Voter Registration Day is inspiring action on a specific day through positive social influence.
5. Make your voter engagement efforts fun, social & celebratory
Supporting voter turnout is a great (and, easy!) opportunity to showcase your business’s impact in your community and industry.
When you make it fun and social, you’re not just building better company culture – your efforts actually more effective! Research shows that “voting celebrations” increase turnout by 2 percentage points. The reason is simple: We’re more likely to show up to something when we think we’ll enjoy it.
Whether your team works in an office or remotely, here are some low-lift, high-impact ways to celebrate voting and strengthen company culture:
- Make it social – In-person, set up a table with materials that voters might need like printed-out voter registration forms, absentee ballot request forms, and stamps. Hot tip: Put out some snacks next to it! Virtually, you can do the same thing: Set up a short-and-sweet “Ballot Party” on Zoom where employees can hop on to take care of voting-related tasks at the same time.
- Team up to turn out – Layer in some friendly competition by creating voting teams – think: department vs. department or location vs. location. As individuals or teams, employees can track progress and celebrate small steps like registering to vote and confirming you have a plan to vote.
- Celebrate with selfies – Invite employees to share their “I Voted” selfies on your internal communications platform (ie. Slack or Teams) or highlight them in company-wide channels leading up to Election Day. Sharing selfies is shown to increase turnout – and it’s a great way to subtly remind your team about upcoming elections and build a culture of voting.
And finally, remember: policies and resources that help people vote aren’t partisan. By inviting voter support into your workforce – you are helping our democracy become more inclusive and nonpartisan.
Need additional help? We have a platform for that!
Motivote empowers causes, colleges, and companies to run high-impact voter engagement programs that help people navigate the voting process. Our proprietary framework is proven to increase turnout with the same behavioral strategies that help us go to the gym, save money, and learn new skills.
Contact us to learn more!