Secretaries of State Welcome Corporate Help to Protect Voters and Poll Workers During Pandemic
As secretaries of state and local government officials work to conduct safe, secure elections this fall amid COVID-19 and anticipated record voter turnout, Business for America (BFA) has launched its Operation Vote Safe campaign, featuring an interactive web-based map built in partnership with global management consulting firm Kearney to allow state and local election officials to identify election-related safety needs that businesses and individuals can fulfill.
BFA launched its Operation Vote Safe program earlier this year as the pandemic began to impact primary voting and funding shortfalls were affecting election preparedness. Operation Vote Safe is a two-prong effort: 1) supporting election officials in filling their needs, including providing business opportunities to recruit election workers among their employees to staff local polls, and providing states with needed PPE, ballot drop boxes, and other supplies to keep workers and voters safe, and 2) encouraging businesses to support the individual voter efforts by removing barriers, such as providing paid leave for voting, providing reliable information on the election, and amplifying #trustedinfo2020 launched by secretaries of state.
The Operation Vote Safe 2020 Action Map (operationvotesafe.org) is a one-stop interactive dashboard for election officials to identify their needed materials (face shields, hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, ballot drop boxes) and for businesses to fulfill those needs directly or through an online PPE marketplace.
“Due to extreme demands on voting systems around the country, election officials are asking for help to keep voters and poll workers safe,” said Sarah Bonk, founder and CEO of Business for America. “In fact, one election official told us it feels like they’re looking under the sofa cushions for resources. The American business community wants a vibrant representative democracy and safe election, so it’s essential that we step up. Election Day is just weeks away, so it’s all hands on deck right now.”
The map was conceptualized by the BFA team and developed by Kearney to facilitate business and private sector contributions to election officials with identifiable needs, like PPE. In addition to the map, the OVS website provides a PPE marketplace called HealthEquip (healthequip.com) initially created to supply health care workers with protective equipment, and supported by REI Co-Op and Merit Solutions for BFA to use for Operation Vote Safe.
Operation Vote Safe is currently active in 13 states, with a wide range of companies already supporting the campaign. Andersen Windows & Doors has donated 25,000 face shields to Pennsylvania, Washington, and Ohio. Cox Enterprises has donated 20 ballot drop boxes in Georgia. Coca-Cola is donating poll worker refreshments in a number of states, as well as crafting a PSA in Georgia. New Balance and Patagonia have supplied tens of thousands of masks. Outdoor Research is providing 10,000 masks in Pennsylvania and 80 rain jackets Washington.
Ben Ptashnik, president of the National Election Defense Coalition, which has been working with BFA to recruit business and nonprofit participation, said, “2020 is a unique election year, and having secretaries of state ask for private-sector assistance at this scale is unprecedented. Americans need to step up this year to secure our democracy by voting early, working at the polls, and contributing Election Day needs to keep workers and voters safe from COVID.”
“With early voting already underway, states may encounter shortfalls and additional needs in the run-up to Election Day,” Bonk concluded. “We’ll keep the site updated as new needs are identified. Anyone can have an impact by choosing a county in need, purchasing the needed items on the HealthEquip marketplace, and having it shipped directly to county election officials. Our map also identifies where more poll workers are still needed, and that’s one of the most essential needs that businesses and employees can meet.”
Dozens of companies around the country are supporting BFA’s Operation Vote Safe with their employees and local communities. Visit operationvotesafe.org for a list of companies and activities underway to support a safe 2020 election.
About Business for America
Business for America is a nonpartisan network of business leaders advancing solutions to boost civic engagement, reduce political polarization, and modernize government. A well-functioning democracy will help foster a more competitive, innovative business climate in America. Businesses interested in getting involved can learn more at bfa.us.