How These Retailers and Brands Hope to Increase Voter Turnout in November

Ahead of the midterm elections in November, a number of major companies are joining forces in the hopes of influencing a stronger voter turnout.

The coalition, formed under the campaign name Time to Vote, is composed of 137 startups and big-name corporations across the United States in a variety of industries, including tech, manufacturing and retail.

Described as a nonpartisan effort led by CEOs, the movement aims to galvanize employees’ intention to vote, particularly as the country faces one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world — as low as 36 percent in the 2014 general election, according to data gathered by United States Elections Project.

Among the companies doing their part is retail behemoth Walmart, which has launched its Walmart Community Votes website as a resource tool for employees looking to download registration forms, note election deadlines and learn about their candidates who are running for office.

“As every election matters, we’re empowering our associates and customers with voting information to more easily exercise this great privilege and responsibility,” the company said in a statement to FN.

Outdoor apparel group Patagonia, on the other hand, will close its headquarters as well as retail stores, giving employees a full paid day off to vote, while Levi Strauss & Co. will offer corporate and store workers five and three hours off, respectively.

“Our democracy simply works better when people go vote,” Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario shared in a statement. “Demonstrating your company’s commitment to voting reinforces the idea that American businesses can protect our democracy. I have been heartened to see business leaders from every corner of the country and across a range of industries prioritizing the health of our democracy, and I look forward to seeing this movement grow.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Deckers Brands and VF Corp. — parent company of names like The North Face, Timberland and Vans — are also hoping to change the paradigm, with the latter stating that the right to vote is “a wonderful privilege.”

“We want to ensure our associates have time to do so on election day in November,” VF’s vice president of public affairs, Scott Deitz, told FN. “Helping to ensure that work obligations don’t get in the way of civic responsibilities is in line with the kind of organization we consistently want to be.”

Deckers CEO Dave Powers added: “At Deckers, we believe in doing business in a way that keeps us engaged and makes a positive impact on the world around us. But that isn’t just a business philosophy — it’s something that extends to each and every employee. We encourage everyone at Deckers to make their voices heard and positively impact our community and environment.”

Other participating companies include casualwear retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co., clothing and accessories chain Gap and women’s apparel designer Eileen Fisher. Beyond the fashion industry, businesses like Kaiser Permanente, PayPal and Lyft have pledged their commitment, with the transportation service giving discounted rides to polling locations and even free rides in select communities.

“I believe that each of us can be a catalyst for change,” said Fisher, president of the namesake brand. “When we exercise our right to vote, we can have a profound impact. As the founder of a values-based company, I want to encourage every employee — across our entire organization — to exercise their right to create change. Any opportunity that allows us to make a difference in our communities is of vital importance.”

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