Across America, we've seen people waiting hours and hours to cast ballots during early voting. Those lines often mean a difficult choice for many who work on Election Day: Vote, or collect a paycheck? But more and more businesses are taking the bold step of giving employees paid time off to cast their ballots.
"Our democracy does better when we all participate,” says Corley Kenna, the spokesperson for clothing company Patagonia. The retailer is one of a growing number of businesses making it easier for employees to vote. On Election Day, they'll shut down their stores, their headquarters, and their distribution center. Workers will get a paid day off so they can vote, and four more days off if they volunteer as a poll worker. "As we face a climate crisis, a social justice crisis, a health crisis, and an economic crisis, I think it is more important than ever before that we engage and that we exercise our right to vote,” Kenna says.
Other companies like GM and Square have their own initiatives.
But it's not just large businesses. A survey by Square found about two-thirds of small businesses say they plan to give workers time off to vote this year.
Chocolate shop Xocolatl in Atlanta has only a dozen employees, but on Election Day they'll all have a paid day off. “If you believe everyone should have the right to vote, then, you know, you need to step up and do something about it,” co-owner Matt Weyandt says.
Weyandt says closing the store for a day is just common sense. "It should be a national holiday where everyone has the day off, and I think, you know, the community of business owners that we talk with all felt strongly the same way,” he says. It sends the message to customers and employees that voting is essential.
The Square survey also found a quarter of businesses are open to making Election Day a company-wide holiday to encourage more employees to vote.