Washington, D.C. — As private companies take a greater role in elections and voter engagement, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress and Business for America outlines 17 ways that the business community can help boost voter turnout and ensure that Americans can vote safely during the pandemic.
Given the human, financial, and logistical challenges that election officials are facing because of the pandemic, the private sector can play an essential role in reducing the potential for confusion or even chaos on Election Day, the brief finds.
Retailers such as Old Navy have already drawn attention for offering to pay employees to work at polls on Election Day. Coca-Cola has declared November 3rd a company holiday. In 2018, companies such as Spotify and Twitter displayed reminders in their apps to encourage users to vote on Election Day. Lyft and Lime have offered to provide some users with free rides to polls for the 2020 election. New Balance and Outdoor Research will be donating thousands of face masks.
But there are many other ways companies can help.
“This is about taking positive, nonpartisan action to help keep our democracy strong while at the same time protecting public health and building goodwill with customers and employees,” said Alex Tausanovitch, director of campaign finance and electoral reform at CAP. “America needs the business community to help overwhelmed local election officials address the shortage of poll workers, the lack of safe, in-person polling locations, and the need to process an unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots.”
“There is a lot that companies can do to help us have safe and fair elections,” said Sarah Bonk, founder and CEO of Business for America. “And businesses that help encourage voter participation during the COVID-19 pandemic can boost their brand awareness and build goodwill with customers and employees. They can also play a critical role in strengthening trust in our democracy, thus helping to reduce polarization in our national politics.”
Some of the ideas include:
- Display notifications or pop-up reminders to tell people how to register and remind them of the local deadlines
- Offer spaces for ballot drop boxes
- Offer large spaces to be used as polling locations
- Help notify employees about voter registration
- Host voter registration and absentee ballot application drives at high-traffic locations
- Help educate audiences, customers, and employees about voting by mail and early voting
- Provide absentee ballot applications to employees or customers, where possible
- Provide paid time off for employees to vote
- Lend mail-processing equipment to election officials
- Provide safe and free transportation to the polls
- Provide support and protective gear to voters waiting in line
Read the brief: “17 Ways Companies Can Help Americans Vote Safely” by Alex Tausanovitch, Sarah Bonk, and Richard Eidlin.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.