In 2018, Levi Strauss & Co. CEO and President Chip Bergh issued a strong call for citizens across the U.S. – no matter who they are, where they live and what they believe in – to step up and make their voice heard by voting in their elections.
In his Fortune Op-Ed, Chip wrote, “Voting is a hard-won right, a weighty responsibility and an incredible privilege that we too often take for granted here in the U.S. In the 2016 presidential election, 40 percent of the people eligible to vote stayed home instead. That’s 102 million people who ‘voted’ for apathy, more votes than any other candidate got.”
Voters turned up at the polls in record numbers for the 2018 midterm elections (50.3 percent of eligible voters voted in 2018, compared to a turnout of just 36.7 percent in 2014). In an effort to bolster participation, LS&Co. and Patagonia joined forces to launch the “Time to Vote” initiative, encouraging voter turnout by making sure employees can take the time they need to participate in the election. That work continues today as the coalition of businesses build on past results and seek to engage even more employers in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
“When the business community comes together to take a stand on issues that affect all Americans, it sends a powerful message,” Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice, a leading nonpartisan voice on voting rights and elections, said in regard to Time to Vote. “Ultimately, a culture shift will meaningfully boost voter participation, and business leaders can help drive that shift.”
We know there’s still a lot of work to do: Americans have one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed countries – and in fact, only 34 percent of voters between the ages of 18-29 plan to vote in their state’s primary election this year, according to one IPSOS poll. Throughout this year, we will continue our momentum in driving voter turnout by encouraging employees, consumers and the business community to do their civic duty by getting registered, getting educated on the issues, getting involved– and of course, getting out to vote. We think Chip’s words continue to be as relevant today as they were in 2018: “It’s not about party or political affiliation, it’s about participation … Your vote is your voice. Use it.”