Civic Leadership Initiative
The Bipartisan Policy Center 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.
“We are excited to partner with these leading corporate and nonprofit organizations in a unified effort to increase civic engagement in our country,” said BPC President Jason Grumet. “Expressing our varying political and ideological differences is fundamental to the American experience and essential in finding common ground solutions. Civic engagement is the means by which Americans can encourage policymakers to solve problems that touch every one of us.”
- Boys and Girls Clubs of America
- Marriott International
- Starbucks Coffee Company
- United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Bipartisan Policy Center
- 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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
Recommendation from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration on Employer/Employee Poll Worker Initiatives
Jurisdictions should recruit public and private sector employees, as well as high school and college students, to become poll workers.
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.” Read more