5 Ways Brands Can Make Election Day the Super Bowl of Democracy

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The next presidential election is already part of daily conversation in America and people are more engaged than we’ve seen in over a century. People are (finally) paying attention.

This is good news not only for our democracy, but also for business. Companies have a real opportunity to capitalize on this period with consumers and employees in 2020 — and we need them to.

The U.S. has, historically, suffered from low voter participation. We currently rank 26th out of 32 developed democracies in voter turnout. In any given election over the past century, 30-50% of eligible voters skip the ballot box. A functional democracy requires fuller, more representative participation by its citizens. For the health of our democracy, we need businesses to step up and help get more people to the polls.

Here are five ways companies can help change the culture around voter participation in America, celebrate Election Day like it’s the Super Bowl:

  1. Promote it like a holiday: A lot of non-football fans watch the Super Bowl. It’s entertaining, sure — but it’s also a highly visible cultural event. A lot of people watch so they won’t be left out of the conversation with co-workers, friends, or family on Monday morning. We need this kind of visibility and social cohesion around elections. People are much more likely to participate if they know their friends and families are voting too.
  2. Demystify the voting process: Voting for the first time can be intimidating. New voters often wonder how to register, where to go, what to bring to the pollseven what to wear. Companies have huge platforms to reach voters with voting information and links to helpful resources. From promoting National Voter Registration Day to sharing reminders about where to look-up your polling place, brands are uniquely situated to reach people campaigns may otherwise miss.
  3. Get the community involved: Showing up at the polls to cast your ballot on Election Day can seem like a boring task. But it doesn’t have to be! Local businesses are teaming up with community groups and election officials around the country to host things like block parties, picnics, or parades nearby polling stations. Sponsoring a party at the polls helps make voting more celebratory, fun, and is proven to increase voter turnout significantly.
  4. Make it easy for employees to vote: Companies can make a big impact simply by giving employees time off to vote. You can open late, close early, hold no-meeting days, or give employees the day off entirely. Just make sure everyone knows they have your full support to make time to vote. If this doesn’t work for your business, make sure to promote early or absentee voting, so no one misses their chance at that “I Voted” sticker.
  5. Keep it nonpartisan: No one thinks a company has to pick a football team to hype the Super Bowl. Similarly, companies don’t need to support or oppose a candidate or political party to celebrate Election Day. Businesses can still make apparel for the voting booth and sell decorations or snacks for election night result watch parties.

Celebrating democracy is a great opportunity for companies to build a pro-social brand with consumers and strengthen relationships with employees. Early planning, C-Suite support, and nonprofit partnerships can all help make it easy for a brand to create and implement an impactful get-out-the-vote initiative. With just under a year out from the 2020 election, now is the time for companies to make a commitment to celebrate the election.

Ashley Spillane

Ashley Spillane is a social impact strategist and co-author of the Harvard case study “Civic Responsibility: The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout." She’s the former head of Rock the Vote, the nonprofit group that seeks to boost the political involvement of young people.

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