Colorado companies making it easier for employees to vote with Time to Vote

More than 80 Colorado companies are encouraging their employees to vote by taking part in Time To Vote — a nonpartisan movement aimed at boosting voter participation in the U.S.

The 2020 general election saw record voter turnout, with more than 158.4 million Americans casting their ballots for Joe Biden, Donald Trump and other candidates, Pew Research Center reported.

More than 2,000 companies nationwide participate in Time To Vote, which can include providing employees with information about early voting or vote-by-mail options, extending paid time off to Election Day or barring meetings on Election Day. Launched in 2018, the movement also describes its approach as “flexible,” as “we know there’s not one fit for every company.”

For instance, Patagonia, a cofounder of Time To Vote, is closing its Denver and Boulder retail locations on Nov. 8 in a move that applies to all of its U.S. stores and offices.

“Colorado workers should not have to choose between earning a paycheck and casting a ballot, especially when our planet is in crisis and our democracy is under attack,” said CEO Ryan Gellert.

The outdoor clothing retailer is giving its employees paid time off on Election Day — a custom since 2016. Each Patagonia location sends at least one volunteer to serve as a poll worker, watcher or in another capacity, with paid time off.

Gellert pointed to Time To Vote’s popularity as “a sign the business community is serious about the right to vote.”

Kristy Lewis, founder of Quinn, a Boulder-based natural foods company, described her team as “fully committed to making sure our employees have the flexibility and time off” to vote.

“Every vote counts, and we want to make sure we are all able to show up in the midterms,” she added in a statement.

Other Front Range businesses involved include outdoor recreation products company The North Face, fly fishing shop Rocky Mountain Anglers, beverage company Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha, law firm Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP, Cañon City’s Royal Gorge Anglers and Next PR public relations firm in Colorado Springs.

At Aspen Skiing Company, employees are granted paid time off to vote. They’re also encouraged to work as election judges and campaign.

“We try to make it cultural, encouraging them to bring their friends, neighbors, and fellow ski bums to the polls,” said Michael Miracle, director of community engagement. “Pushing for the fairest and most functional democracy, which means supporting the highest participation possible among voters, is a no-brainer for us.”

The Aspen enterprise backs different issues, including climate, social justice, LGBTQ+ rights and voting rights.

“We are lucky to be in Colorado, which has a gold standard voting system,” Miracle added, highlighting the options for early voting, vote-by-mail, ballot tracing and automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Businesses thrive with an engaged staff,” said Christopher Gibbons of American Green Consulting Group LLC, in Windsor. “Ensuring our employees are able to be engaged in key duties outside of the workplace encourages the attitudes necessary to be engaged within the workplace too.”

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