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Policy & Government

Patagonia, other companies aim to increase voter participation

The Time To Vote campaign is a band of nearly 150 companies giving employees time off to vote in the midterm elections this November.

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Not long after Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario wrote a blog post in June about the value in giving employees time off to vote—something she did in November 2016 and is doing again this year on Election Day—she started talking to other company executives on both sides of the political spectrum about doing the same for the midterm elections.

That’s how the Time To Vote initiative came together. 

“Our democracy simply works better when people go vote,” Marcario wrote in a statement. “Demonstrating your company’s commitment to voting reinforces the idea that American businesses can protect our democracy. I have been heartened to see business leaders from every corner of the country and across a range of industries prioritizing the health of our democracy and I look forward to seeing this movement grow.”

Nearly 150 other companies—including Walmart (1.5 million employees), Southwest (57,000), and Kaiser Permanente (216,000)—have joined forces in an effort to increase voter turnout ahead of the midterm elections in November. Within the outdoor industry, CEOs from Coalition SnowDenali, Great Outdoor Provision Company, Massey’s, Pack Rat Outdoor Center, Taos Mountain Outfitters, Townsend Bertram & Company, Wylder Goods, VF Corporation, and other brands and retailers have signed on. 

“It’s powerful to see companies coming together in support of voter participation,” The North Face Brand President Arne Arens said. “We feel responsible for creating opportunities for our people to vote, and we encourage them to actively engage in civic life. We’re proud to be a part of Time to Vote, and continue to advocate for all Americans to make their voice heard.”

The campaign’s objective is to lift voter participation above 36 percent—what it has been in recent years—and not give people excuses to avoid the ballot boxes. Vinny McClelland, CEO of The Mountaineer, puts it bluntly.

“It is not fair, it is lazy, it is undemocratic and cowardly to sit on the sidelines and complain and whine about the sorry state of affairs our politics are in and the attacks on our environment and our deficits and our wars and dysfunctional politicians and NOT VOTE,” McClelland wrote.

Roads Rivers and Trails Owner Bryan Wolf adds: “No matter your core beliefs, voting this midterm will have major implications in our communities, with our environment, and to the landscape of outdoor recreation areas. So for those of you on the fence about voting, we want to be the positive voice that tells you, your vote matters!”

Outdoor Industry Association and Protect Our Winters are also making big pushes to activate voters through #VoteTheOutdoors campaign and registering people to vote, respectively.

Here’s how to join the Time To Vote movement.