As an employer, your employees probably look up to you for a variety of reasons. First, you’ve made it to the top by running a company. Second, you probably show up each day ready to work and achieve your goals. Third, there’s a good chance you do your part by giving back to your community. Then, every four years, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership in a big way—by heading to the ballot box to cast your vote.
Even though your employees hear about voting, there is a chance many employees don’t know how to vote. Here is your chance to show them the way, so that your employees will feel equipped to play a role in the upcoming election.
Why Voting is Important
While you might already know voting is a big deal, there’s a chance you aren’t 100% sure why it is important. Perhaps you just do it because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do each election year. Well, to shed a little light on voting history, what is now your right, my right, and nearly every U.S. citizen’s right (as long as they are at least 18 years old), was not always the case.
Specifically, let’s start in the 1800s. After establishing the U.S. as a country, disenfranchisement ran rampant among the states, as there was no federal determination at that time stating who could legally vote. Disenfranchisement means certain groups were excluded from the right to vote. Even after black men earned the right to vote in 1869, measures were in place to create obstacles and limit their efforts to make it to the polls. The 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote, followed decades later by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This ended Jim Crow laws, and was the final nail in the coffin of old-school disenfranchisement.
However, there is perhaps a new era of disenfranchisement upon us. That is, certain groups are essentially excluded from voting, simply because they don’t know how to vote. As you can see, it took nearly two centuries to get to the point where every citizen of voting age is legally eligible to vote. What if we took that a step further, putting our money where our mouth is, and began showing all employees how to vote?
Tread Lightly with Voting Rhetoric
Now, while you may be super pumped about inspiring your employees to vote, you must proceed with caution. Remember to avoid asking employees who they plan to vote for. Furthermore, you may not try to influence their vote either way. Employees should not fear that voting one way or another would affect their employment status, or adversely impact their reputation at work. Doing so could be perceived as discrimination, and that wouldn’t bode well for your company or the cause.
So, in order to show employees how to vote, make it clear that the gesture is simply a courtesy, and employees may vote if they wish to do so, or not. Furthermore, they should feel free to vote for whichever party and candidate they choose.
Election Day Deets
Now, the first thing you’ll want to make sure to do is set the time frame for the election, so employees will know how quickly they must act in order to have all their ducks in a row. Election Day is November 3, 2020. Hence, that will be the day you will show up to the polls, if you choose to do so.
Pre-Election Day To-Dos
- If employees haven’t already registered to vote, they can do so online. You can also print voter registration forms for your employees, if they prefer paper documents.
- The deadline to register to vote is on a state-by-state basis. The range is anywhere from one week to two months prior to Election Day, although many states do not have a deadline for online registration.
- Absentee ballots are available to employees who cannot make it to the polls to vote in person.
- Early voting is available in some states.
Where to Go and What to Bring to Vote
- Voters’ addresses will determine their assigned voting locations, so employees can look up their assigned location to know where to report on November 3rd.
- Voters will need to bring their state or federal IDs, including the voter’s name and photograph. State driver’s license, United States Passport, and other IDs with photos issued by the state or federal government are accepted. Even if the ID is expired, in some cases it may still be used.
- First time voters will need to bring proof of residency, meaning a document showing the voter’s current address. Examples of acceptable forms include a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or tax document.
No ID? No problem!
- If a voter shows up to the polls without an ID, he/she will receive a provisional ballot. The provisional ballot will buy the voter two days to return to the election commission office with an approved ID.
- Within those two days, the voter can go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a driver’s license or non-driver ID.
- With an ID in hand, the voter will then sign an affidavit, and the election commission office will keep a copy of the ID.
- If the voter does not return to the election commission office within two days, the vote will not be counted.
A Few More Voting Tidbits
While all the aforementioned are the technical details showing employees how to vote, there are a few more things you as the employer can do. First, remember to be lenient in allowing employees the time they need to get out to the polls. Second, be ready to answer questions people will have about the process. Consider establishing a voting committee to provide support and direction to new voters. Third, be sure to provide voting information and time off to all employees equally, not just select employees. Fourth, continue to consider the COVID-19 pandemic. Remind employees to take appropriate safety measures, bringing a mask and mini hand sanitizer with them to the polls, if they choose in-person voting.
Now that you are equipped to show your employees how to vote, perhaps they will do more as a result of this knowledge. For example, they can consider voting in local elections.
To the Polls, or Bust!
So, kudos to you for deciding to do your part to encourage your employees to take advantage of one of our most precious liberties! Showing your employees how to vote is essentially giving them a megaphone to amplify their voice. Regardless of the outcome of the election, voting inspires people to be invested members of society. So, keep leading the way. Provide employees with the important dates and details, and give them the time they need to exercise their right. Now, to the polls, or bust!
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This is not meant to provide legal counsel or advice. Every situation is different. Please contact an HR professional or employment attorney before taking any action.
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