On November 6, Americans head to the polls to vote for midterm elections, but for too many of us, the process of taking time off from work to go vote can be cumbersome. When the Pew Research Center asked Americans this past September and October why voting would be difficult, more than a fifth of respondents listed long wait times and large crowds and scheduling conflicts. In the 2014 midterms, Americans who did not vote said a conflicting work or school schedule was among the top reasons why they did not vote.
How many more Americans would vote if they had the whole day to do so? More companies are making policies to find out.
Time off to vote movement spreads
Tuesday’s election day is not a federal holiday. Currently, there is no federal law mandating time off for employees to go vote, but in the absence of federal law, more companies are stepping in to make voting a workplace priority. Spotify, SurveyMonkey, and TaskRabbit are among 348 companies participating in a Take Off Election Day campaign to give employees time off to vote.
Outdoor apparel company Patagonia said it is going one step beyond a few paid hours and is giving a full day of paid leave to employees. Patagonia closed its business on Nov. 6 and is giving its employee the day off as part of a Time to Vote company commitment.
“I believe this movement is crucial to the future of our democracy. Midterm elections suffer immensely from low voter turnout,” Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia said in a blog post. “Together, we can remove barriers to civic participation and encourage all American workers to be citizens and voters first.”
This movement has grown since the last election cycle. Forty-four percent of American firms will give workers paid time off to vote, up from 37% in 2016, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. When employees have the freedom to vote at their personal convenience, voting becomes easier for all to do. Maybe your company will be next?