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Let paid employees staff polling places

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2008

Let paid employees staff polling places

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2008


Kai Ryssdal:
Businesses across the country were conferring some special incentives today.
Not to bump up sales, although that probably would have been a nice side benefit. No, they were trying to encourage more of us to vote. Some of the freebies in exchange for a ballot stub out there? Star-shaped donuts, a scoop of ice cream, free beer in Baltimore, free tattoo removal in Dallas. All well and good. But commentator and lawyer Carlos Concepcion says businesses have something even more valuable to offer the democratic process.

Carlos Concepcion:
A colleague recently asked if I would be willing to be a “Hero For Democracy.” “What does it entail?” I asked. “It’s simple.” She said. “I want you to allow a couple of your employees to train to become Miami-Dade County poll workers and work the polls on Election Day.”

But you need to pay them the usual way, as if they had been at work.

I thought about it for about two seconds and said, “OK, sign me up.”

Why pay employees to take time off from work to assist voters?
Because poll-worker service, like jury duty, is the highest form of civic service.
Poll workers do not work for political parties or candidates.
They take an oath to leave their political opinions and partisan leanings at home.
A poll worker serves all the voters of our community to make sure they can exercise their right to vote.

Given all the confusing changes in voter technology, business owners, and particularly attorneys like me, have an even greater responsibility to contribute to the electoral process because our employee pool has a wealth of valuable skills.

My firm specializes in commercial litigation and financial services.
So our employees are accustomed to multi-tasking, deadlines and a high-pressure environment.

We have talented workers who read and speak three or four languages; energetic people who are accustomed to dealing with the public; people who are computer literate and technology savvy.

These are precisely the people who make the best poll workers.
While most business owners and attorneys I know would tell you that they can’t afford to have their valued talent take the day off, if you push a little harder, they will also say that they owe their business success to their community.
Many of us also owe this country our right to vote.
So, my friends, it’s time to do your duty. Share your employees.
Be a “Hero for Democracy.”

Ryssdal: Carlos Concepcion is an attorney in Miami.

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