U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Emerging Issues, Michael Carney, sat down with Thomas Hicks, Commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to discuss the future of the electoral system and how business employers and employees can engage.
Highlights of the Episode:
- Poll workers are a vital element to every election cycle, with around one million poll workers needed for every Presidential election cycle.
- The pandemic has changed the role and need for poll workers, with Hicks noting “Like healthcare workers, we lost some really great poll workers during this pandemic. They knew the risks involved, but they still volunteered. They still risked their lives to make sure our democracy was going to function.”
- Hicks reflected on why being a poll worker is rewarding and shared his personal motivation to promote democracy due to his parents not being able to participate in democratic processes in the deep south when they were young. When they finally cast their first ballot, their enthusiasm for democracy was evident, so much so that Hicks’ mother became a poll worker herself.
- The best way for businesses to support civic engagement is to announce opportunities, like becoming a poll worker, and allow for paid time off to participate.
The Civic Trust encourages employers to permit and promote time off for civic activities through the Civic Time Off initiative. Civic Time Off is designed to encourage employers to offer employees paid time off to participate in non-partisan election support activities. In doing so, employers will make it easier for employees to serve in these critical roles and will provide a mechanism for participants to share their experiences with their fellow employees.
Hicks ended this discussion with a pitch to employers about the future of poll workers.
"I want to thank you for all the work that you've done to make our economy strong. But I want to ask you to serve as poll workers. It’s a difficult job, but one that can be very rewarding and allows you to give back to your local jurisdiction. This will serve not only your spirit but our democracy at this most critical time. Our democracy was built on fundamental rights, so serving as a poll worker will enable people to act on those rights."
Tune into our upcoming discussions of Civics Forward every month with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.