Wouldn’t it be much easier to vote on Election Day if you had time off from work?
Since it’s not yet a national holiday, a new campaign called Take Tuesday is asking employers around the country to make to make November 8 a vacation day on their corporate calendar—or at least guarantee a block of time off for all employees.
"The will to vote isn’t the only thing standing in people’s way. There are a lot of structural barriers," says Noah Fradin, a recent Brown University graduate who works in product development for the Seattle startup Surround.io. Some people can’t afford to miss any work. For others, incredibly long lines at the end of the day make voting nearly impossible, he notes. (More states adopting early voting and voting by mail could also help this.)
At launch, Take Tuesday has signed up the companies Casper, Thrillist, and DataXu. Each firm has also committed to using its communications departments to help spread word of the campaign. On hearing about the idea, the venture capitalist Hunter Walker started a Google Doc of other startups that are ready to sign up.
But what about beyond the startup bubble? Barriers to voting affect minorities and low-income voters at much higher rates than well-paid startup staff.
Fradin notes that in 1999, as part of union negotiations, Ford, GM, and Chrysler gave employees Election Day off. He says that proves that it’s possible for large, complex companies. He hopes to convince some firms that employ hourly, contract, or minimum wage workers (DataXu does employ some), and thinks getting consumer tech companies with strong brand names will help build up momentum.
Democrats have traditionally pushed for measures that increase voter turnout, which tend to bring out a more diverse, less wealthy portion of the electorate, and some CEOs in the tech industry are specifically mobilizing against Donald Trump. But Fradin aims for the Take Tuesday effort to be nonpartisan. "The best election for our government is the one that is most representative for our people," he says.
Fradin has some experience in convincing companies to sign on to social good measures. In high school, he started an initiative called Cherry Card, in which companies agreed to donate a portion of product proceeds to a charity of a consumer’s choice.
His larger goal with the Take Tuesday campaign is to show that companies support a national Election Day holiday. Efforts in the past to make that happen haven’t gone very far. "We believe that if we can show that companies are capable of doing this and have a lot of interest, we can build support."
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