Voting as an institution was a vital building block in the development of democracy in America. Broad participation in the process is deeply rooted in our culture, and it is just as important today as ever. However, in today’s fast-paced workplace flooded with constant demands and obligations, along with novel coronavirus-related safety precautions, it's easy to let voting fall by the wayside as we rush to keep up with our busy schedules. How then can we make sure that voting gets to the top of our to-do list? Here are a few ideas to help you lead by example and solidify voting as a priority in your organizational culture.
In any leadership position, you can have a big influence on your team simply by your actions. Take advantage of this opportunity to lead by example and establish your voting plan early. Then, continually encourage your team to do the same. Make announcements at all of your morning meetings leading up to Election Day. Insert a little encouragement at the end of your email signature. Create a section in your company's newsletter with voting guidelines. Remind your team of voting deadlines and guidelines on using work time to go vote. Actions speak louder than words, but they are strongest together. Use both to encourage your team to vote!
We’ve all heard (or made) the excuse, “I couldn’t get away from the office.” During the voting season, eliminate that possibility by making it clear that taking time to vote is important. As a team, you might set aside one day with no meetings or deadlines to ensure time is allocated. With the freedom to structure the day, one should be more able to find time to schedule a trip to the voting booth. However, with so many alternative paths to voting this year, one day might not be enough. As a leader, make sure you follow through and support the request when team members share their plans, and back them up if flexibility is needed.
A surefire way to increase participation in anything is to set up a reward system. Encourage your employees to vote by promising a simple reward for doing so. Consider offering a donut day, or a pretzel day, or an ice cream day, where coworkers only have to present their “I Voted!” sticker to get the food for free (or for a discount). A raffle system could also work well, even in a remote setting. Have employees share pictures of themselves voting, and then pick names for the lucky winners. Gift cards or something else small could easily be sent by mail, or even electronically.
Another way to encourage voting is to set aside time not only for voting but also for volunteer work and non-partisan activism. Many companies might have voter awareness groups that work to encourage voter registration and disseminate key dates and information. Or, there might be a non-partisan advocacy group whose mission aligns with your organization that you can partner with. You could also encourage and support volunteerism in the process itself—most areas are always in need of poll workers and other volunteers. This not only helps your local government but also your community at-large by helping the process go more quickly and facilitating questions or challenges.
Voting is an extraordinary privilege, yet, it's easy to forget about amid busy schedules and overflowing to-do items. Let's help each other find time to vote by encouraging each other to establish a voting plan early, providing many opportunities and reminders to vote, and being flexible. For more information on how, when, and where to vote, check with your local voting office or refer to this Voting Q&A from Georgia Tech.