Voting in the Time of COVID-19
The results of this year’s presidential election will affect human and civil rights, the racial justice movement, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector not just for the next four years, but potentially for decades to come. Voting is a vital way each of us can take a stand to create equitable and healthy communities, especially right now. At the same time, COVID-19 has disrupted typical pre-election activities, restricting “get out the vote” initiatives, impeding a key demographic of poll workers – seniors – from volunteering, and making voting in person risky.
Voting and volunteering are important ways we can all work to alleviate inequality, and Common Impact takes both seriously. We’re closed on Election Day because creating the space for our staff members to vote, volunteer as poll workers, or drive neighbors or family members to polling sites matters.
We've also been inspired by the ways companies and nonprofits are meeting the challenges of this year’s election and creating space and resources to ensure that each one of us can make our voice heard.
Not being able to take time off work is one of the top reasons people don’t vote, yet research from the Sustainable Brands collaboratory Brands for Good found that participating in elections is “one of the nine most impactful behaviors that consumers can engage in to help create a healthy, equitable future for all.”
Many companies – including Common Impact partners like Verizon, TIAA, and JP Morgan Chase – are giving their employees time off to vote and committing to campaigns like Time to Vote or Global Citizen’s Just Vote. Starbucks is giving all U.S. employees a free Lyft ride to vote, volunteer, or even drop off their mail-in ballot. Uber Eats is sending food trucks to polling places to feed the folks standing in long lines.
If you’re a business leader, it’s not too late to take action. Give your team members the time they need to vote safely or to participate in our democracy by volunteering to help others do the same.
Nonprofits can get on board, too. Nonprofit Staff Vote is a joint campaign by organizations including Nonprofit VOTE, National Council of Nonprofits, Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector that encourages nonprofits to offer employees paid time off to vote on or before Election Day, not just unpaid time as many – but not all – states require. Nonprofit Staff Vote aims to make the sector an example for all industries when it comes to encouraging and enabling employees to exercise their right to vote, and Common Impact is proud to be part of it.
There are plenty of ways for individuals to make a mark in this year’s election as well.
Need to make a plan to vote yourself? Visit vote.org to find your polling place, early voting location, or drop boxes; learn what’s on your ballot; and more.
If you’ve already voted early or are fortunate enough to have Election Day off work, don’t stop at casting your own ballot. Participate in a phone bank to motivate last-minute voters to get to the polls, write postcards to underrepresented voters, encourage your friends and family to vote, and consider signing up to be a poll worker with Power the Polls. For more ideas, check out Nonprofit VOTE’s “10 Things to Do from Now Until Election Day.”
Voting in COVID-19 times may require more effort than it has in the past, but making your voice heard is one of the very best ways we can build equitable, healthy, and strong communities.