Election Day is upon us, and despite it falling on a Tuesday like it does every year, some companies have decided to give their employees the day off to vote. And we're here for it.
Since the mid-1800s, Election Day has always fallen on a Tuesday, admittedly making it difficult for many working Americans to vote. With notably poor voter turnout over the last few decades, you'd think the government would do everything it can to get people to show up. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case, as calls to make Election Day a national holiday have largely fallen on deaf ears.
Fortunately, a few tech companies around the country have opted to give employees the day off in hopes of turning those voting numbers upside down.
Tech Companies Giving Employees the Day Off to Vote
As part of the “Time to Vote” movement, 1,900 different companies around the country have pledged to give their employees paid time off on Election Day to encourage more Americans to vote in arguably one of the most important elections in the country's short history.
While many voters will abstain regardless of employment status, the goal is to make sure that your job isn't getting in the way of the democratic process, which is a notable problem in the US. The fact is that there are almost zero laws in place that require employers to let employees vote. This push by corporations could be the spark we need to change that.
Here are some of the tech companies that plan to give employees time off to vote:
- Twitter – all employees get the whole day off
- Lyft – Part and full time employees may request time off (plus free and discounted rides on the app)
- Facebook – all employees get paid time off to vote
- Google – all employees get paid time off to vote
- Uber – All employees get the whole day off (plus discounted rides)
- Apple – Retail and hourly works get four paid hours off
- Walmart – Hourly workers get three paid hours off if you can't vote due to scheduling
- Best Buy – Paid time off to vote (plus shortened store hours)
In addition to these tech companies, a wide range of other notable businesses have pledged to give employees time off to vote, including Patagonia, Nike, Gap, J. Crew, Visa, and JPMorgan Chase, among others.
The Time to Vote Movement
Considering the US has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the developed world at a mere 56% in 2016, it's safe to say this kind of push towards democracy is more than necessary. Fortunately, companies are stepping up to get it done through the “Time to Vote” movement, a non-partisan movement started by Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, and PayPal ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections with a simple ideology:
“Workers shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and voting.”
Encouraging businesses to give employees time off to vote isn't all Time to Vote is about either. The movement also encourages businesses to take an active role in providing information to employees about early voting and mail-in ballots and, if time off is not possible, at least making it a “meeting free day” to allow a bit more flexibility for those that want to vote.
“People have fought and died for the right to vote in America and as business leaders we have a role to play in helping our employees participate in the democratic process,” said Chip Bergh, President and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. on the Time to Vote website.
Is This Enough?
Honestly, the Time to Vote movement is a great step in the right direction. It holds businesses accountable for the role they play in building a better democracy that is committed to voting. But that's all it is: a single step.
The reality is that 1,900 might sound like a lot, but there are millions of businesses in the US that still require employees to work on Election Day, offering little to no option otherwise. And tragically, a little nudge from large corporations is likely not going to change that.
Given its nation is one of the worst developed countries in the world when it comes to voter turnout, the government needs to take action. While we love to yield our country's vital responsibility to corporations, it's time to make a change and give Americans the power to vote without infringing on their right to work.