PTO and poll working: Here’s what Election Day looks like for these tech employers

This election year has been unlike any other in American history.

With an ongoing pandemic, and while millions of people still work and attend school from home, options like mail-in voting, early voting and one-stop voting centers have popped up across the region. Election Day will likely be more like Election Week, New York Times’ opinion writer-at-large covering technology Charlie Warzel told us during a keynote at Technical.ly’s Developers Conference last week.

And similarly to how companies have had to figure out how to address these and other “big issues” this year, many have chosen to make voting and Election Day a part of their company’s policy.

Power Home Remodeling, which previously offered two hours of flex time to go vote on Election Day, this year rolled out a companywide campaign called “Power the Vote” in an effort to educate employees and encourage them to vote. The campaign also includes the new policy of giving a full paid day off on Election Day to all 2,700 employees, and encourages them to volunteer in their communities by helping others register to vote, advocating for voter rights or as serving as a poll worker on Election Day.

“With the current climate of the world and this year’s primaries, we learned [the original policy was] clearly not enough — we knew we had to do better,” Chellsy Mysza, a company communication specialist told Techncial.ly.

Michelle Bauer, Power Home Remodeling’s VP of public relations, brought up the change during an Introduced by Technical.ly conference panel last week on how companies are transforming this year, saying that employees can also be paid by Power for their volunteer hours.

“We’re really trying to support those conversations in a way that people can be civil about it, and supporting that voting message for sure,” Bauer said.

The company has also been hosting virtual events focusing on the history of voting rights in this country, including conversations about the history of women’s rights and what voting means to folks who aren’t able to.

“As part of the campaign, we’ve created an internal platform to provide nonpartisan resources for our employees to continue their education on all things Election 2020, help them to make informed decisions, and ensure they have accurate and reliable information they need in order to register and vote,” Mysza said.

Sophia Harrison Curcio, the director of partnership development at Collingswood-based CustomED, Inc., a nonprofit that designs educational tools and experiences for social impact, said her team is encouraged to work the polls and is given a day off to do so, plus a day of training.

“We’ve always had volunteer time that someone could use at their discretion throughout the year (including volunteering for the polls), but this policy is updated specifically so that the volunteer time off is not affected,” she said.

Curcio said she’s not sure exactly how many employees are going to take advantage of the policy, since they’re not asking people to share that formally, but she knows of a handful who are planning to do so from casual conversation.

Web dev company Yikes Inc. is again observing Election Day as a company holiday, as the company did back in 2016, and this year it’s also joining the nonpartisan, business-centered effort Time To Vote, which advocates that workers shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and being able to vote.

Cofounder Mia Levesque recently wrote a blog post explaining the company’s support of the effort, and told Technical.ly the team believes voting is a fundamental right — “one that people have fought and died for.” Nonpartisan resources like Time To Vote help them spread the message, she said.

“Expanding voting options, including when and how people can vote, would enhance our democracy,” Levesque said. “Providing our employees the time to vote and volunteer encourages participation in the process.”

Is your company planning an internal GOTV effort? Or, do you have a plan for how to address the results of the election with your team? Anything else you’d like to share about your workplace and voting, democracy or politics? Tell us at [email protected]

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