What are your plans for Nov. 7 – or earlier?

September 1, 2006 By    

For the procrastinators reading this article, it is time to make a decision about this year’s congressional elections – and not just about which candidates you will support.

This year, why not think more broadly about the statement you make and the influence you have on those around you through both your actions and words?

Unfortunately, if you are an executive or middle manager of your company, it is likely you won’t vote at all. According to Darrell Schull, vice president for political operations of the Business and Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC), those who have the interests of business in mind the most are often the ones too busy to actually go out and vote.

 Lisa Bontempo
Lisa Bontempo

A little planning can change that. Schull urges the business community to take advantage of early voting. This opportunity, which until recently was only thought of in terms of absentee voting, is now expanding throughout the country to allow early voting for no other reason than it is easier for many people.

Some states are allowing voting as early as Sept. 1 and as late as the last week of October.

For information on your area, visit www.bipac.org or visit www.nam.org. Remember, your early voting polling location may be different than your regular polling location.

You also should be encouraging your employees to vote. Schull cited a Northwestern University study showing that even people who contact members of Congress on an issue do not vote, and that 50 percent of employees who are eligible are likely not to vote.

Voter registration closes in the first week of October in many states, so it’s not too late. Consider posting voting registration and early voting information on employee bulletin boards, newsletters or even in paychecks.

Another tool that has been used extensively by organized labor for decades is communication. Talk to your employees about candidates and issues. Encourage them to get involved in the process by voting and volunteering. Let them know that volunteering to be a poll watcher or campaign worker during their time away from work is encouraged.

In an era where political parties and candidates inundate you and your employees with political messages, these messages may actually suppress voter turnout due to overload. True or not, what is missing is credible information from employers that can make a difference as a trusted voice, according to Schull.

In every congressional cycle there are a handful of races decided by a small percent of voters. And this year the number of close races may be even higher. You can make a difference.

After congressional elections, BIPAC conducts polls across the country and asks employees where they received their most credible political messages. In 2004, they found that the business community is not even “scratching the potential on elections” compared to employees who said they received credible messages from organized labor.

You can effectively communicate your concerns and be a credible voice to your employees. For a free pamphlet entitled “Educating Your Employees,” including legal dos and don’ts, visit www.nfib.com/politics.

Lines of communication between employers and employees can be difficult on any issue, especially politics. Federal election laws are another reason employers cite for not wanting to communicate with employees about elections, candidates and issues. Without imposing your political views on employees, you can communicate that the success of your business is directly affected by the actions of those in office. Obviously, the laws and regulations that impact your business impact your employees.

In the energy industry, there may be no easier time than now to make this case to your employees. So, what are you doing to prepare for Nov. 7?

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