To address a nationwide poll worker shortage and encourage employees to vote, Old Navy announced today that it will pay its employees to volunteer at the polls on Election Day, as well as give workers up to three hours of paid time off on Nov. 3 to cast their ballots.
It’s part of a broader initiative by more than 150 major retailers to encourage civic participation at a moment when the country is facing some of the biggest crises in generations, from the coronavirus pandemic and economic disparities to the fight against racial injustice and voter suppression. Civic Alliance, the nonpartisan business group behind the push, is aiming to achieve “historic” numbers this fall and 80% voter turnout by 2028.
“As an iconic American brand, we reflect America—with its diverse people and perspectives,” an Old Navy spokesperson said. “Voting is fundamental to democracy, regardless of beliefs or affiliations, and we believe we are all better when we engage in the process.”
The United States has seen widespread poll worker shortages across the country this year, in large part due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most poll workers are over 61, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and at higher risk of complications or death should they contract Covid-19.
Fewer poll workers can mean polling place closures, delays at remaining locations and, ultimately, less access—especially for those who can’t take time off to vote or don’t have reliable transportation.
In response to the poll worker shortage, the EAC designated today as National Poll Worker Recruitment Day.
Old Navy is working with the Civic Alliance and Power to the Polls, a poll worker recruitment initiative to get 250,000 people to sign up to work the polls on Election Day.
“We believe that participating in the democratic process is a vital right,” an Old Navy spokesperson said. “We want to encourage our employees across the country to become more involved in the democratic process without worrying about sacrificing work.”
In addition to providing employees with up to three hours of paid time off on Election Day to get to the polls, Old Navy has designated Nov. 3 as a “no meetings day” at its corporate headquarters to ensure each employee has time to vote.
Old Navy will also be working with its parent company, Gap Inc., and Rock the Vote to provide employees with voting resources leading up to Election Day.