“A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.” — Thomas Jefferson
Washington, D.C. – Roughly a year from now, our nation will inaugurate the 45th president of the United States. Our democracy confers great authority to our president, but this power flows from the people and relies on active civic engagement. Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center announces a nationwide initiative to strengthen our election process. In concert with leading national employers, nonprofit organizations, and government officials, BPC is announcing an effort to encourage employees to register, to vote, and to work as volunteers at polling places.
Starbucks, Marriott International, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce join BPC in launching this effort. BPC will be providing guiding principles for participating organizations and technical support to connect organizations with local election administrators.
“We’re pleased to partner with BPC on this important initiative. Marriott was founded 89 years ago in our nation’s capital, so encouraging associates to be involved in the democratic process has long been part of our culture,” said Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson. “We’re proud of our history of supporting civic engagement and election volunteerism and look forward to sharing best practices and learning from others to foster a more active electorate.”
In the 2012 election, fewer than 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Compounding the problem, mail-in registration forms and inadequate staffing and support at polling places present burdens even for those who try to participate. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA), led by Ben Ginsberg and Bob Bauer, was created as a bipartisan effort to improve the voting experience. Ginsberg and Bauer were instrumental in drafting the principles BPC is releasing today and will remain involved in this effort through its duration.
“As the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended, employers can play an important role improving professionalism in the administration of American elections,” said PCEA co-chairs Ginsberg and Bauer. “We are delighted to see leading institutions encourage their employees to volunteer at polling places and support the democratic process.”
“Our democracy suffers if only half the eligible voters participate in national elections,” said former Senator Olympia Snowe, a co-chair of BPC’s Commission on Political Reform, which advocates for greater voter engagement. “BPC is thrilled to be joining with major companies and great institutions to encourage participation in the democratic process.”
Participating organizations see this effort to engage their employees in the voting process, through registering, voting, and volunteering as poll workers, as a natural extension of their commitments to engaging in the community.
“Serving nearly 4 million youth annually, Boys & Girls Clubs enable young people to reach their full potential and achieve great futures,” said Boys & Girls Clubs of America President and CEO Jim Clark. “Through our good character and citizenship programs, Clubs help young people acquire skills to participate in the democratic process. We encourage all Clubs, including staff and volunteers, to get involved in their local communities.”
“Today there are 27.3 million Hispanics eligible to vote in this nation—making up a record-high 12% of all U.S voters. Concurrently, there are 4.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses contributing to the American economy,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Javier Palomarez. “It is important now, more than ever, that our community effectively participates in the political process. The USHCC is proud that this initiative will help more enterprises and institutions do their part to encourage their employees, and others, to become engaged and help restore a healthy democracy.”
- Starbucks Coffee Company
- Marriott International
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America
- United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- The Bipartisan Policy Center
Quotes from Participating Organizations and Elected Officials
“Voting is a right, a privilege, a freedom and occasionally a hassle,” said Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet. “BPC is thrilled to be working with leading corporate and nonprofit organizations to improve our election process and make voting easier for their employees, customers and communities.”
“Increased civic engagement is the solution to many of America’s pressing problems,” said former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, a co-chair of BPC’s Commission on Political Reform. “The more citizens are encouraged to get involved, the more likely they will trust the election process. The leadership of our corporate and nonprofit partners is a major step towards improving our political system and creating a sense of community.”
“The election officials of America should welcome the creative, powerful and forward-looking strategies the Bipartisan Policy Center is launching,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has spent most of her adult life in election administration and working on reforms at the county, state and national level. “It is the job of all of us to work tirelessly to remove barriers, promote civility, and encourage people to vote and get engaged in democracy. We are a better nation when that happens. We desperately need better civic dialogue and involvement by each and every qualified voter.”