2020 has been an extraordinary and relentless year, as we all know. Here in the US, we have spent nearly half the year in the midst of a global pandemic; we have witnessed waves of protests and uprisings calling for an end to the long history of police brutality against Black men and women; and we have had to reimagine how we work and educate our kids in this new virtual world. And we’re not yet to September.
As the Chief People Officer for a racial justice organization, I am leading a team that is focused on the urgency of the moment and working hard to meet the needs of our employees, scholars, founders, partners, and the local communities that we serve. This week the Kapor family of organizations, consisting of the Kapor Center, Kapor Capital and SMASH launched our 100 Days of Action for Racial Justice campaign, a series of initiatives to fight for racial justice in our political, educational and economic systems. One of our core areas of action is in civic engagement.
We believe civic engagement and participation is critical to our democracy, and core to our work to enhance diversity in the tech ecosystem.
Here are just a few of the reasons why civic engagement is so important, especially this year:
- Only 56% of the voting-age US population voted in the 2016 election
- Nearly 1 in 5 registered voters cite conflicting work or school schedules as deterrents from participating on election day
- Experts anticipate a massive shortage of poll workers, as a result of the average poll worker being 60 years old and more vulnerable to COVID-19
- Changes to polling places and new voting processes are rolling out for first time, while numerous voters are displaced
- Voter disenfranchisement and suppression continues to be a problem and is structural and intentional, particularly impacting Black and Latinx communities
There are policy agendas and ballot measures at the local, state, and national level that can significantly improve our existing educational system, healthcare, economy, immigration system, and criminal justice system. It is critical that we ALL engage in shaping our country’s future this November and beyond.
For these reasons, the Kapor family of organizations have decided to recognize Election Day 2020, Tuesday, November 3, as a paid volunteer time off (VTO) day.
Given what is at stake this year, especially for communities of color, we encourage everyone who is able, to not only register and VOTE, but to also get involved, volunteer, and fully participate in our democracy at this critical moment in history.
We invite all of our partners, founders and the broader tech community to join us and the CEOs who have already pledged to offer PTO for Election Day. This is a defining year, a defining moment in history, and we need all available hands and feet to join this effort.