How Old Navy Is Stepping In to Address the Nationwide Shortage of Poll Workers

As states scramble to mobilize poll workers ahead of the general election, Old Navy is stepping in to help in recruitment efforts.

The apparel and accessories chain announced today — on National Poll Worker Recruitment Day — that it will pay its store employees to work the polls on Nov. 3. The company, which currently employs roughly 50,000 associates at its more than 1,000 brick-and-mortar locations across the United States, said that the compensation will equal a full eight hours of pay. (Employees who serve are also eligible for compensation from their local jurisdiction.)

“We are constantly inspired by our store teams, with their passion for community work and fostering a sense of belonging both in and outside of our store walls,” president Nancy Green said in a statement. “Every voice in this country matters and deserves to be heard at the polls, and if we at Old Navy can be even a small part of making that process more accessible to the communities we call home, we are on board.”

To encourage people to serve in their communities, the San Francisco-based retailer has partnered with nonprofit Civic Alliance and nonpartisan initiative Power the Polls in a national movement to enlist 250,000 new poll workers to ensure polling sites stay open and operate with efficiency on Election Day. It is also inviting customers to participate at the polls through an online sign-up sheet.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. is facing a record shortage of poll workers even as a growing number of Americans are expected to cast their ballots by mail in the 2020 presidential election. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has established Sept. 1 as a national awareness day to address this shortage, as well as inspire greater civic engagement and volunteerism.

Other brands are also engaged in efforts to get out the vote: Keds and Birdies are among those that have launched consumer-facing initiatives through product to whip up excitement ahead of November, while Birkenstock, Steve Madden and Nike have pledged to close their offices on Election Day to give employees an opportunity to head to the polls. The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America has also launched online education center ShoeVoter.info to offer members of the shoe industry a range of information, including their state’s registration rules and deadlines, absentee ballot guidelines, voting locations and requirements, plus a list of candidates in their district.

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