Story at a glance

  • To encourage voting, large companies are giving their employees paid leave to go to polls.
  • Companies are also partnering with nonprofits to give workers access to mail-in ballots.

Several major U.S. companies are pledging to give employees time off to vote in the November election, adding to a growing effort to help people vote while working on Election Day since it is not a federal holiday.

The Associated Press reports that a roster of large corporations including Starbucks, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Apple, Twitter, Cisco, PayPal and Uber have all committed to allocating time for employees to vote.

For Walmart, this means allowing its 1.5 million employees up to three hours of paid leave to go vote. Similarly, Apple is offering its workers four hours off. Coca-Cola, Twitter, Cisco and Uber are letting employees take the day off entirely.

Starbucks said it will give is 200,000 employees flexibility on Election Day, and encourages them to plan ahead with managers to schedule time to vote or volunteer at polling places. The company also announced that its app will help customers learn how to register to vote.

“No American should have to choose between earning a paycheck and voting,” PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman said.

Giving employees a designated day off to vote is an idea that has been around since 1999, but has gained traction in recent years. The AP reported that 600 companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Paramount have partnered with ElectionDay.org, a nonprofit devoted to helping companies give employees information about voting, including obtaining mail-in ballots.

ElectionDay.org became active in 2018, and had 150 companies sign up. It now aims to secure 1,000 participating organizations by November 2020.

“There is a groundswell of interest coming out for this,” Nora Gilbert, director of partnerships for Vote.org, told reporters.

Large corporations have been held more accountable recently, especially as a renewed Black Lives Matter movement is calling for greater equality within institutions. Athletic sportswear company Adidas, for example, pledged to fill 30 percent of its open positions with people of color as Black employees accused the company of profiting off of Black culture without helping the community.

In the sports arena, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and NBA superstar LeBron James partnered together to convert the Dodgers’ Stadium to a polling site in a bid to combat voter suppression by making voting logistically simpler for more people. 

Published on Aug 27, 2020