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’It’s important to democracy’: Madison companies give employees time off to vote

Some local companies are also encouraging their employees to volunteer as poll workers and paying them for their time.
Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 7:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With Election Day around the corner and many people already casting their votes, some Madison companies are working to make it easier for employees to get involved.

For Patrick DePula, owner of Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, encouraging his staff to get involved in politics is nothing new.

“I have employees that are registering people to vote,” DePula said.

In 2020, he is trying to give his staff even more time to make their voices heard.

According to the Pew Research Center in 2018, the U.S. ranked 26th out of 32 mostly developed countries in voter turnout based on the most recent election. That is part of what is driving DePula’s efforts.

“Voter turnout in America is always the worst, so anything we can do to encourage people to vote is a positive thing,” DePula explained.

DePula will be closing all four of his pizza joints in the Madison area on Election Day to give staff enough time to vote.

“It should be a national holiday, businesses should be closed, people should take voting seriously,” he said.

He is also encouraging his employees to volunteer as poll workers, to fill the shortage left by some older workers staying home during the pandemic. At least five employees have already signed up to work the polls.

“It just gave us an idea to give back to the community by encouraging our much younger staff to volunteer at the polls,” DePula said.

DePula also said he will pay any employee who volunteers their normal salary.

Time off to vote

What's on my plate today: some Madison-area companies are giving employees paid time off not just to vote, but to volunteer at the polls to help other voters out. Here's a little snippet from business owners about what they're doing and why - part of it is voter turnout. Voter turnout in the US is often lower than other developed countries - in 2018, the US ranked 26th out of 32 mostly developed countries (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/05/21/u-s-voter-turnout-trails-most-developed-countries/)

Posted by Sanika Bhargaw NBC15 on Sunday, October 25, 2020

DePula is not the only Madison business owner with that idea. Daniel Rashke, CEO of Madison-based financial company TASC, is giving employees across the country paid time off to get involved in the 2020 election.

“Let’s allow them to be paid by us to vote, even if they have to stand in line for eight hours,” Rashke said of the decision, adding, “I hope we have 100 percent that vote because we want to create an environment that affords them the opportunity to vote under any circumstances.”

Rashke said at least 20 to 25 employee have signed up to volunteer at the polls as well. TASC made being a poll worker part of a company-wide program that grants employees 40 hours of paid time specifically for volunteer efforts.

Rashke and DePula both said they plan to continue these policies for future elections, and they want to see more businesses follow in their footsteps.

“It’s important to society, it’s important to democracy,” Rashke said.

DePula added, “This is the one time of year where you get to say who your next leaders are going to be.”

American Family Insurance is one of the largest Madison companies giving all its employees time off to vote. Employees nationwide can take a paid day off to vote any time during their state’s early voting period all the way through November 3.

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