Election Day in the U.S. is rapidly approaching on November 3. In advance of the important voting day, many retailers have introduced policies that allow its workers proper time off to vote. Conglomerates such as Starbucks, Apple, and Walmart have dedicated time off for their workers to vote, while Uber and Twitter have given their employees the entire day. Now, Old Navy has announced that it will also do its part, albeit in a different way.
Today, the San Francisco-based retailer announced that it will compensate all of its employees who serve as poll workers on Election Day with a full day’s pay (regardless of if they are scheduled to work or not that day). It’s a new policy that is meant to combat a nationwide shortage of poll workers. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, reports Inc., there is currently a shortage of over 250,000 poll workers in the U.S., due to COVID-19 and other factors. As a result, there could be longer wait times to vote, as well as delays in counting the ballots.
Old Navy is partnering with Civic Alliance and Power the Polls to hopefully bridge the gap, and decrease some of the 250,000 deficit of poll workers. It is partnering specifically with Power the Polls to facilitate the application and training process for its employees to work the polls. It’s a powerful move, all things considered: Old Navy has 50,000-plus employees across over 1000 stores, which is a large pool of people who would not have to worry about losing pay in order to be a poll worker. And, according to a release from the retailer, 64 percent of Old Navy field employees are between 18 and 29 years old, which historically “is the segment of the population with the lowest voter turnout.” This means that Old Navy’s new incentive not only boosts the number of poll workers, but also potentially boosts the odds of more young people voting as well; it’s certainly easier to cast a ballot if you’re already working the station. It’s something many other larger retailers should be thinking about as well.