For over 40 years, only around 50% of Americans of voting age have turned out to vote for each presidential election. In each of those elections except 1984, our president won the office with less than a 10% margin of victory in the popular vote over the runner-up.
That means the elected president only represents around 25% of the American population who can vote!
What role do businesses play in this? Well, let’s consider the fact that more companies close on President’s Day in February to honor past presidents than close on Election Day to encourage employees to help select the next president.
Now let me be clear: we’re not talking about companies influencing voter candidate selection. There are already a lot of issues with large companies having too much influence in politics. That’s not what this is about and it is not what we’re about.
Our goal is simple. We want to do our part to enable our employees to participate and perform their civic duties to vote for the candidate of their choice — without their day jobs getting in the way.
We believe Election Day should be a national holiday. Voting should be easy and made accessible to everyone. Early opens at 6 or 7 AM and evening closes at 7PM are good, but do not work for many employees when family, transit, and work are taken into account. And we don’t want our employees to spend 3 hours in line at 8am or 7pm.
Increased voter participation in 2016 could change history. As business owners, how can we help make that happen?
At BFO, we have chosen to do something very simple. We’re closing on Election Day, November 8th, 2016. This way, all of our employees can vote and participate in the election as they see fit.
We hope others will do the same. Click here to sign-up and participate as an Employer Volunteer: http://www.employersforvto.org/
While we firmly believe an excess of malicious corporate influence does exist in politics, we also believe that companies can do their part to affect positive change in our communities and our country. Election Day is one example. Civic involvement doesn’t have to start and stop with voting. At BFO, we also offer paid days off for employees to do volunteer work.
As a marketing agency with roots in retail, we definitely understand some of the pressures for businesses who cannot afford to close for a day during Q4. For those companies, we invite creative strategies to compensate such as offering flexible hours for employees or staggering schedules to allow for easy access to the polls. We bet if you put a sign on the door saying “We’re understaffed today so our employees can vote,” it wouldn’t hurt your bottom line. In fact, we think it could be a great PR move with tangible benefits.
We believe voting is an important civic duty for all Americans. As such, employers should embrace it and make it easy for the employees to participate. So, we’ll be closing the office on November 8, 2016. We hope other employers will do the same!
Also published on Medium.