Business Leaders’ Call for Vote-by-Mail Connects COVID-19 Public Health Crisis With Urgent Need for Safe Elections

SAN FRANCISCO, April 4, 2020 — Voting by mail is a smart way to securely make elections more accessible to voters — and it makes even more sense in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

At a time when public health is at risk, there are few things more important than ensuring our elections may be conducted safely. American business leaders are calling for the adoption of vote-by-mail in every state to protect public health while also protecting the voices of employees and communities on Election Day.

Business for America, a national, nonpartisan network of business leaders advocating for policy and technology solutions that strengthen our representative democracy, presents the Protect Public Health & Civic Health: Vote-by-Mail for 2020 Elections Webinar on April 7, featuring California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Washington State Secretary of State Kim Wyman, National Vote at Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds, and J.J. Huggins of Patagonia and its national nonpartisan Time to Vote initiative.

“Unless we take action now, some voters will have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote on Election Day,” says Business for America Founder and CEO Sarah Bonk. “We have the technology and know-how to expand vote-by-mail options and ensure no one has to make this tradeoff.”

The webinar will explore how business leaders can educate their employees about Vote by Mail and ensure they have time off to vote on November 3 or to complete their mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day. It’s impossible to know whether the pandemic will have run its course by then. Offering Vote by Mail in every state and territory will allow every voter to cast their ballots while protecting their health, as well as the health of poll workers and communities.

“I believe that business leaders like me have a duty to protect the health of our employees, customers, and communities. At the same time, we have a duty to help protect our representative democracy,” said Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, president and CEO of ECOS. "We can do both with voting by mail, and I urge federal and state lawmakers to take swift action and offer mail-in ballots to all voters.”

The CARES Act COVID-19 stimulus package announced in late March provides $400 million of an estimated $2 billion needed to rapidly restructure elections, with the intent to maximize voting done by mail and minimize in-person voting in this era of social distancing.

“Coronavirus is impacting the availability of supplies, facilities, and personnel to successfully conduct an election, regardless of the method of voting. Many election workers are retired and in the high-risk group for the disease. This puts election officials’ ability to conduct accessible, secure, and accurate elections in jeopardy,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “This unprecedented time in our nation’s history presents a unique opportunity for businesses, community leaders, and election officials to band together to ensure every eligible person has an opportunity to register and vote.”

Voter turnout in the U.S. is one of the lowest in the developed world, and it is in the business community’s interest to help restore trust in elections. There is clear evidence that makes the business case for companies to embrace corporate civic responsibility initiatives like Time to Vote. A 2019 Harvard Business School report found that dysfunction in our political system was the No. 1 obstacle to economic progress, so it’s easy to see how a robust economy depends, in good part, on election integrity.

“While many companies are doing inspired and urgent work in their corporate social responsibility efforts, a broken political system makes it much more difficult to create the kind of change they might seek with issues like sustainability, healthcare, or immigration,” says Business for America Policy Director Richard Eidlin. “A well-functioning election system creates more political competitiveness and less polarization, the kinds of conditions the government needs to create lasting change.”

A recent Business for America survey exploring public perception of businesses’ role in ensuring access to elections discovered that nearly all full-time employed Americans believe they should be able to trust the outcomes of elections and that their employers should make sure their employees have time to vote on Election Day. What’s more, two-thirds agree that businesses have the ability to help restore trust in U.S. elections and that they should do more to help restore that trust.

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.