The Bipartisan Policy Center announced this week that it was launching a nationwide initiative to strengthen the election process in the United States. In concert with leading national employers, nonprofit organizations and government officials, BPC said the initiative will focus on encouraging employees to register, to vote, and to work as volunteers at polling places.
Starbucks, Marriott International, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce join BPC in launching this effort. BPC will be providing guiding principles for participating organizations and technical support to connect organizations with local election administrators.
“We believe we have a role and responsibility to elevate citizenship through service, civility and civic engagement that includes voluntary participation in elections,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “The BPC principles underscore that everyone’s voice matters in this important national process.”
In the 2012 election, fewer than 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Compounding the problem, mail-in registration forms and inadequate staffing and support at polling places present burdens even for those who try to participate. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, led by Ben Ginsberg and Bob Bauer, was created as a bipartisan effort to improve the voting experience.
“As the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended, employers can play an important role improving professionalism in the administration of American elections,” said PCEA co-chairs Ginsberg and Bauer in a statement. “We are delighted to see leading institutions encourage their employees to volunteer at polling places and support the democratic process.”
“Our democracy suffers if only half the eligible voters participate in national elections,” said former Sen. Olympia Snowe, a co-chair of BPC’s Commission on Political Reform, which advocates for greater voter engagement. “BPC is thrilled to be joining with major companies and great institutions to encourage participation in the democratic process.”
Participating organizations see this effort to engage their employees in the voting process, through registering, voting, and volunteering as poll workers, as a natural extension of their commitments to engaging in the community.