BPC Leading National Effort with Corporate, Nonprofit Organizations to Improve the Electoral Process

Companies to Encourage Employees to Register, Vote, and Volunteer as Poll Workers

A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society. — Thomas Jefferson

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 believe we have a role and responsibility to elevate citizenship through service, civility and civic engagement that includes voluntary participation in elections,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “The BPC principles underscore that everyone's voice matters in this important national process."

“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.”

List of Participating Organizations:   

  • Starbucks Coffee Company
  • Marriott International
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • The Bipartisan Policy Center

(Below quote collection from participating organizations to appear on the initiative’s landing page)

“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.”

(Below to appear on BPC’s website and linked from the release.)


BPC and its supporters are calling on enterprises of all shapes and sizes to use these guidelines to encourage more civic engagement.  In the coming weeks, BPC and its partners will be sharing these principles with corporate and nonprofit leaders to inspire greater awareness and support for responsible civic engagement at this critical time.

For more information on this new initiative click here (landing page)

(All of this below will be on our landing page):

Civic Leadership Initiative for Enterprises (“Initiative”): Principles

  • Enterprises of all shapes and sizes have an obligation to facilitate active citizenship by their employees and members. This can include removing impediments to and extending appropriate support for voting registration, voting, and support for the effective administration of voting systems.
  • In facilitating the Initiative’s goal of active citizenship, enterprises adhere to a standard of complete nonpartisanship. This includes keeping all implementing programs entirely separate from the company’s political activities.
  • For example, companies may have political action committees, and their executives may have individual political preferences reflected in their contributions or involvement in specific campaigns, but these activities would be walled off from any of the programs or best practices conducted under this Initiative
  • The Initiative programs and best practices would be conducted without the involvement of candidates or political parties.
  • All employee or member participation in Initiative programs and best practices is purely voluntary.
  • There would be no requirement that individuals participate in these programs—and no pressure of any kind on them to do so.
  • Participation—or non-participation-- in these programs would have no effect on job or membership standing, compensation or benefits, or future prospects within the enterprise.
  • All Initiative programs and best practices would be specified in full and transparent detail. This includes postings to public websites, and other means of general publicity.

Civic Leadership Initiative for Enterprises: Programs and Best Practices

To implement the core principles, the Initiative has developed the following set of programs and best practices that members can utilize to support civic engagement:

Facilitating Voter Registration   

  • Publication through enterprise websites, and through other normal means of communication with employees, of official enterprise support for active citizenship, including the full text of the Initiative and detail on the programs.  
  • Posting on enterprise websites, and through other normal means of communication with individuals, of official registration information produced by election authorities.  
  • Offering and, where requested and appropriate, providing support for state and local programs to facilitate accessible and efficient voter registration, including programs to publicize the availability of on-line voter registration.  
  • Communicating appropriately to the broader public the enterprise’s commitment to active citizenship and in particular to timely voter registration.

Support for Voluntary Employee Service at the Polling Place

  • Consistent with the Presidential Commission’s recommendations, establish programs to enable employees to volunteer without penalty for polling place service on Election Day. As the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommended: “the success of these programs depends on broad community support, including recognition of both the employee’s service as a poll worker and the employer’s willingness to give the employee the day off for that service.”  
  • Offer and, where requested, provide support to election administrators in establishing training programs for these and other polling place volunteers.  
  • Offer and, where requested, support for election administrator programs to publicize opportunities for polling place service.

Recommendation on Employer/Employee Poll Worker Initiatives from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (supportthevoter.gov)

Co-chairs Robert F. Bauer and Benjamin L. Ginsberg   

In recent years, some programs have also been instituted to encourage employers to make opportunities for poll worker service available to their employees. Two states provide by law that employers must afford their employees these opportunities without penalty. Other states have developed programs to recognize employers for supporting those employees who wish to work on Election Day. Examples include the “Champions for Democracy” program in Franklin County, Ohio, and in the Kansas City metropolitan area, “Making Voting Popular.”

The Commission recommends that each state establish or upgrade programs for encouraging employee service at the polls. State statutory authorization has the evident virtue of clearly setting out state policy in this regard and guarding against the possibility that employees wishing to serve will be discouraged by fear that they will suffer penalties in the workplace. In the end, however, the success of these programs depends on broad community support, including recognition of both the employee’s service as a poll worker and the employer’s willingness to give the employee the day off for that service. Beyond mere statutory authorization, voluntary initiatives of this nature may establish these programs more firmly within the communities these poll workers serve. Taken together, recognition at law and informal recognition in the community have the combined potential for adding appreciably to the number of poll workers prepared to serve on Election Day.