ATLANTA — Businesses across the state of Georgia are rallying together to lend a hand for a smooth, safe, accessible election experience in 2020. In an election year that is facing a record number of voters, COVID-19 challenges, and the implementation of new voting machines in Georgia, election officials welcome the support from the business community. Part of a national movement, more businesses than ever are fostering civic engagement in the election process.
GaVotingWorks kicked off its collaborative effort with a recent virtual meet up, which included Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Business for America, and several influential Georgia companies. Raffensperger briefed the assembly on current state needs from driving early voters, to signing up technology support workers, to securing plexiglass dividers for polling locations.
“As a small business owner myself, I know how important these private organizations are to a strong and vibrant civic life in Georgia,” Raffensperger said. “I look forward to working with GaVotingWorks and their partners in the private sector to help make sure elections in November are smooth, efficient, and secure.”
“I realized that businesses are a source of trust, communication and resources that could be leveraged in the upcoming election,” GAVotingWorks co-founder Betsy Armentrout said. “In the backdrop of COVID-19, employees haven’t been able to engage in their communities like they once did. There is a very real desire to give back, and the upcoming election is an ideal opportunity.”
“This is not another nonprofit or 501(c)(3),” GAVotingWorks Co-Founder Jennifer Dorian added. “This is community organizing for the business sector. Participation is free and open to business leaders who want to use their influence for good and in service to our fellow citizens in this historic election.”
National partner organization for GaVotingWorks, Business for America, helped launch the kickoff and is inviting national Operation Vote Safe members to bring their programs to Georgia.
“Georgia businesses are enthusiastically joining the national movement for safe, secure elections,” Sarah Bonk, founder and CEO of Business for America, said. “We’re excited to connect our national partners with the Georgia action team for local programs including companies such as Warby Parker and Sweetgreen.”
Participating Georgia organizations and companies in GaVotingWorks to date include AT&T, The Atlanta Hawks, The Coca-Cola Company, The Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta, Cox Enterprises, Delta Airlines, Gas South, Home Depot, The Lola, Mercedes Benz USA, Parkmobile, and Roadie and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. GaVotingWorks will hold a general information session for interested companies to learn more about the effort on Friday at 9:30 a.m. via a virtual webinar format. GaVotingWorks has a free tool kit for employers of every size who wish to find information to support employees at https://gavotingworks.org/business-voting-toolkit.
Participating companies will meet virtually throughout September and October to share best practices and collaborate in three key areas to support a positive voting experience for all:
Technology worker recruiting: Across the state, Dominion Voting Systems is hiring tech-savvy workers to set up and oversee polling station technology and voting machines. The state will need 3,000 technology support workers on Nov. 3 with one technician per precinct. GaVotingWorks and the participating companies will recruit from the vast wealth of tech-savvy workers in their companies and the broader business community.
A joint voice on early voting: Participating companies will have the opportunity to amplify the state’s messages to get out the early in-person vote (Oct. 12-30). Companies are exploring all the creative and effective ways that they can help support messaging.
Supplies for precincts: The state is looking to source plexiglass dividers as well as boost the number of absentee ballot drop boxes. Companies may make a financial contribution or donate supplies.
“All of us at Coca-Cola are driven by a belief that we have a responsibility to not only refresh the world but to make a difference,” Monica Howard Douglas, general counsel with The Coca-Cola Company, said. “That commitment has no deeper root than in our home state of Georgia. We are proud to have announced Election Day as an additional paid company holiday for all U.S.-based employees earlier this summer, giving our associates the flexibility to vote when it works for them.
“The Coca-Cola Company stands ready to assist GaVotingWorks to help ensure a positive voting experience for people across our state. We hope that Georgia’s 2020 General Election Day is a best-in-class example of how government, business and communities can make a difference when we all work together.”
“When we vote, we shape the future of our communities and our country,” Heather Kennedy, VP of government relations at The Home Depot, said. “At The Home Depot, we believe that our democracy works best when all of us participate. We are proud to offer a Get Out the Vote site called HomeDepotVotes.com, where anyone can access resources to find early voting deadlines, request a mail-in or absentee ballot, and learn about the candidates up for election in their state.”
“Joining this organization was a no-brainer for us,” said Kayla Duperrault, Roadie’s head of people. “At Roadie, we truly care about our team, both personally and professionally. This year, that’s meant doing a lot of listening about what’s important to them, and civic engagement is right at the top of that list. Voting this year is going to come with unique challenges, so we appreciate the work that GaVotingWorks is doing to make it an easier process for all.”
GaVotingWorks is a non-partisan effort to convene Georgia businesses for employee engagement in elections. As a community organizing initiative, GaVotingWorks focuses on collaboration with Georgia businesses to help their employees engage in the voting process and help the state with voter education, early voting demand, and workers and supplies for polling locations.
Business for America is a national nonpartisan network of civic-minded businesses advancing solutions to boost civic engagement, ensure election integrity, reduce political polarization and modernize government. A well-functioning representative democracy will help foster a more competitive, innovative business climate in America. Businesses interested in getting involved can learn more at bfa.us.