THE UNITED STATES has one of the lowest voter participation rates of any democracy in the world. In the last presidential election, less than 56% of the voting age population exercised their right to vote.
In New Hampshire, we outperformed the national average in 2016 with 72.5% of eligible voters casting their ballot. Our high engagement and passion are among the many reasons presidential candidates make countless trips to New Hampshire during the election cycle.
But we still have room to improve. Our state’s turnout reflects that more than one in four people didn’t make their voice heard. One in four people didn’t exercise their right to say which leaders represent them.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic presents our voters with an additional set of challenges. Many people need to vote by mail; some polling places may have long lines and wait times; and states like New Hampshire have needed younger poll workers to step in for older volunteers to safely staff polling stations.
The takeaway is clear: This year, we all need to do more to get the vote higher. The good news is that CEOs and business leaders in New Hampshire can help us achieve that goal.
Our company, McLane Middleton, expanded efforts to support our employees’ right to vote by taking a pledge with A Day for Democracy. This non-partisan initiative, founded by CEOs, aims to increase voter participation in local, state and federal elections. Organizations that take the pledge commit to giving their employees time off to vote or to helping their employees get registered to vote. Every company that joins is given access to a full toolkit to help employees register and vote in whatever form is best for them — whether in-person or by mail.
In taking the pledge, we joined more than 320 business leaders representing almost 1.5 million employees across the U.S. from virtually every sector: financial firms, professional sports leagues and teams, retailers, hospitals, labor unions, media organizations and many others. Here in New Hampshire, leading employers like Southern New Hampshire University, New Hampshire Public Radio and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce have all signed.
Our firm is guided by the principle that our employees should be active participants in our community, which is why our colleagues regularly volunteer their time at nearly 200 different service organizations. We, like countless other businesses in New Hampshire, are driven by a sense of purpose that it’s essential to do what we can to improve our communities. And we know that there’s no better way for our employees to do so than by exercising their right to vote.
As the executive director and CEO of our firm, it’s my job to make sure my colleagues have all the time and resources they need to exercise that right. That’s why I took the pledge with A Day for Democracy, and it’s why I’m encouraging other CEOs and business leaders in New Hampshire to do the same.
Voting is one of the most fundamental aspects of our democratic system. It is the basic building block that gives citizens the power to control the future of their communities. And when it comes to increasing voter turnout — when it comes to giving citizens that power — business leaders in the state have a role to play.
I urge other CEOs to take the pledge with A Day for Democracy. Let’s get everyone who is eligible to vote.