I’ve always been proud of the civic spirit of our team members at Ceisler Media.
This firm was founded on the idea that companies and people can work together to create action for positive change. It’s what we do as a business, and those values drive our work in communities across the state.
So have we. So a few weeks ago we began recruiting staffers and offering them a paid day off to work at polling locations across the state on November 3.
This is consistent with efforts we’ve made in the past, encouraging a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’ve always given our people paid leave on Election Day if they want to help a particular campaign—but now we want them to help the entire process.
This is an action I’d like to see other local companies follow. It’s an effective and uncomplicated way to support our democratic system. And this year, the need for that support is acute.
While more Americans plan to vote by mail in 2020, a new survey by NBC News/Survey Monkey found that 31 percent of voters still plan to cast their ballot in person. Because they take this right seriously, we all need to make sure those polls are staffed.
We already saw long lines and confusion in this year’s primaries, in Pennsylvania and across the country. Part of that slow flow was created by a paucity of poll workers—and that looms as a larger problem two months from now.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission projected a shortage of more than 200,000 people needed to work at election sites on November 3. It’s why September 1 was designated as National Poll Workers Recruitment Day.
Typically, poll workers are older Americans—the commission found that 58 percent were 60 years or older during the 2018 election. That population, of course, is more susceptible to Covid-19. So, smartly, they are choosing to stay home this year.
Someone has to step in. And I’m happy to see many of our younger staffers raise their hands to help. I suspect the same would be true of younger employees at most companies—if they’re given the opportunity.
Trust me, working the polls is anything but an easy day off. You are required to show up at dawn to help set things up, and stay past the last votes being cast at 8pm. You may be called on to help voters sign in, assist those with special needs and keep tabs that machines are running correctly.
It isn’t glamorous. But you are the on-the-ground good citizen who is there to ensure our system runs as smoothly as possible. Participating in democracy or social movements is the first step toward creating positive change.
Making sure that everyone has easy access to voting is critical—and even more so this year. So we are also working with VoteSafe Pennsylvania, a bipartisan campaign aimed at ensuring that residents feel confident in the security of their ballot—whether they vote in person or by mail.
That effort has the support of every living former governor from both parties. And it’s chaired by former House Majority Leader Dave Reed, a Republican, and former Congressman and U.S. Army Undersecretary Patrick Murphy, a Democrat.
We also helped place secure voting machines in Philadelphia and other local municipalities that provide a verifiable paper record ensuring that every citizen’s vote has been accurately counted.
Certainly 2020 is a unique and challenging election year. I encourage you to vote—by mail, or in person if you’re comfortable doing so. But I also encourage business owners to consider taking an extra step: Give your workers a paid day to man the polls on Nov. 3.
It’s a move that serves us all well.
Larry Ceisler is the principal of Ceisler Media and Issue Advocacy, which is a statewide public affairs firm with offices in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
It’s election season in Philadelphia. Are you all set to vote?
- Check your voter registration in PA
- Register to vote in PA
- Find your polling place and other post-registration facts
- Request a mail-in ballots for the 2020 election
- Check out who’s running and what are the ballot questions