Tomorrow will be a paid vacation day for thousands of Americans, as more than 300 companies close their doors and urge employees to go vote.
Election Day in the United States has been held on a Tuesday since 1845, a time when many eligible voters organized their weeks around farm chores and the Sabbath. The decision was relatively sensible at the time, but these days, many argue, the weekday vote is only hurting our democratic process. The U.S. ranks 138th out of 172 countries when it comes to voter turnout, while countries with weekend votes are faring far better.
The hassle of getting to the polls can vary by location. Some states mandate paid election-day leave so that workers can vote, while others allow a few hours of unpaid leave as long as it’s requested ahead of time. Still others make no provisions for employees at all, leaving would-be voters scrambling to vote early or endure long lines before or after work. It’s no wonder so many Americans just don’t bother.
But private organizations can make their own Election Day rules, and some of the biggest employers in the U.S. are doing just that. So far, more than 300 companies, including General Motors, Ford, Patagonia, and many publishers and tech startups have pledged to close their doors tomorrow in order to give employees the time to vote.
This year marks the first such closing for some organizations, but at Hearst, giving non-news operations employees the day off is an annual tradition that was started by company founder William Randolph Hearst himself at the turn of the 20th century.
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario has pledged to temporarily shutter all her company’s stores, its headquarters, and its distribution center on Tuesday. "As a business, we have a unique ability to take a stand and choose to prioritize the health of the planet over profit, and I think it's important we take that opportunity when it truly matters," Marcario said in a statement.
The bipartisan nonprofit Take Off Election Day is keeping a running list of companies offering paid time off to vote. If your employer isn’t among them, you can visit takeoffelectionday.org to send an anonymous email urging them to get on board the democracy train.
[h/t CNN Money]