by Shayne Thomas
29 Oct 2020
Empower Employees to Vote With Confidence
Cornerstone’s #EducateYourVote initiative encourages companies to give employees time off to study their ballots before voting
It’s no secret that the U.S. General Election is right around the corner. In fact, it’s pretty much the only thing people are talking about today in the news and across social media—aside from the second wave of COVID-19 making its vengeful return. (Let’s table that one for now…)
Without question, most election-related chatter is about who will come out the victor in the presidential race or which party will control the U.S. Congress for the next two years.
But that’s not where the ballot ends, at least not for U.S. elections. What many people forget when voting rolls around is that there’s also a dizzying array of state and local offices to fill as well as a number of propositions and other ballot measures to weigh in on—some that will more directly impact voters on a daily basis than who they vote for at the national level.
So, when faced with all of these choices, how can you ensure that you enter the voting booth—even if said “booth” is a mail-in ballot filled out at home—with confidence?
For starters, you need to do your research and set aside a solid chunk of time to study up on the candidates and ballot measures. This will help ensure that your vote gives you an opportunity to shape your country’s, state’s, and city’s future in a meaningful way.
Voters in the U.S. today need more time to prepare
Recently, Cornerstone and YouGov partnered on a survey that both examined the learning habits of U.S. adults before elections and gauged the role employers should play around voting preparedness. The survey found that nearly 22% of U.S. adults do not feel they have enough information to cast their entire ballot confidently in this year’s election. Another 80% of those surveyed said they will spend less than two hours studying their ballot before casting a vote.
As someone who has already voted—and takes voting in every election very seriously—I can confirm that I studied my own General Election ballot for around three hours before filling it in. I will also admit that the language used “for” and “against” certain state or local ballot measures can be so confusing (and convoluted) that even I, at times, wanted to throw my hands in the air and simply abstain. But giving up is never the answer. Being an informed and educated voter means taking the time to figure out how to vote intelligently on ballot measures as well as choosing the candidates that, at least, claim to have your best interests in mind.
Getting to that point of confidence isn’t always easy, especially knowing that you have to weed through a lot of political “blah blah blah” to overcome the sheer information overload of ballots today. And when you’re already juggling an intense workload—and have other personal commitments to attend to—when can you find the time and make the brain space for all that?
Employers can be the catalysts for voter preparedness
Interestingly, our survey also underscored a growing desire for employers to give employees time off to study their ballots and, of course, go and vote. Here are some of the key findings:
- Fifty percent of respondents said they would be interested in having their employer set aside working hours to study ballots ahead of an election.
- Sixty-five percent of employees in the 18-34 age group (now a majority of today’s workforce) were found to be the most adamant about having paid time off for voter education. Comparatively, the same sentiment was conveyed by only 49% of those in the 35-54 age group and 36% of those in the 55+ age group.
- When asked how important it is for employers to provide time off for voting, 80% said that it’s extremely ‘important,’ ‘important,’ or ‘nice to have.’
- Nearly 40% agreed that an employer's policies and practices around voting participation increases the likelihood of them staying at their current company.
The message is pretty clear. People want (and need) more time to learn about what they’re actually voting for. And knowing that people’s day-to-day schedules are becoming busier than ever, they would also like employers to carve out time to help them be more informed voters.
Fortunately, many businesses already run their own company-wide register-to-vote campaigns and even offer paid time off to go and vote. Voter education is merely an extension of this.
A great way to do this is through your learning and development program. If you don’t already have a learning management system in place, Cornerstone Learning is a great solution for this.
By making critical and non-partisan information about elections happening in your country, state, and city readily available through your learning platform, you can put useful knowledge in the hands of your employees. This gives them easy access to credible and unbiased information that can help them vote with confidence while also avoiding them from getting caught up in the trap of misinformation. After all, knowledge is the key to building a more informed electorate.
Cornerstone’s #EducateYourVote initiative
This is why we decided to launch the #EducateYourVote initiative. Not only does it provide employees with dedicated time off of work well ahead of upcoming elections to learn more about the issues they’ll be voting on, but more importantly, it ties back to our core belief that people can achieve anything when they have the right learning and development opportunities.
We encourage you to follow our lead and give your employees the time and space to be more informed voters. Whether you give your employees time off to go and vote or go the extra mile by providing extended learning opportunities so they can vote with confidence, it’s clear that employers today have a critical role to play in fostering a more civic-minded workforce.