Retailers Get Out the Vote

Nov 02, 2004

By George Anderson

With many calling today’s Presidential election the most important of their lifetime, employers, unions and associations connected with the retailing industry have stepped up efforts to get out the vote.

According to a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, retailers including Target and Best Buy have found non-partisan ways to get their employees involved in the democratic process.

Target put up voter information on its internal Web site. A spokesperson for the retailer, Lena Michaud, said, “We’ve set it up to help educate [Target employees] on issues, candidate positions and such things as how to get an absentee ballot. It’s completely nonpartisan, and it has had a ton of hits.”

Best Buy also posted voter information on its internal site. Laura Bishop, government relations manager for Best Buy said the company tells employees, “We’re not going to tell you how to vote, but the government does make decisions every day that affect you, your family and this company. So be sure to vote.”

Ms. Bishop said that the company also registered 400 headquarters employees as part of its program to turn out the vote for this year’s election.

While Target and Best Buy have taken a non-partisan approach to the election, industry advocacy groups such as the National Retail Federation (NRF) with its Project Vote Smart initiative have a desired outcome in mind. The association offers members a guide to congressional candidates with a grading system of zero to 100 based on issues important to the industry.

Moderator’s Comment: Are you encouraged by the efforts of the individual companies and associations to get more people
working in retail involved in the political process? What do you hope to see come out of these efforts?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune article pointed out that Minnesota is one of 29 states that guarantees workers be given time to vote on election day.
We’d like to see all companies writing that guarantee into their HR policy regardless of the state laws that govern them.

George Anderson – Moderator

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