Nov. 4, 2016 12:58 pm

Why this marketing firm is giving its employees PTO on Election Day

Witty Gritty founder Michelle Freeman has always considered herself civically engaged. This year, she decided to take a step further by joining the Free the Vote initiative alongside other Philly companies.

The Witty Gritty team.

(Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by Witty Gritty founder Michelle Freeman.
John Oliver reminded me this week that we vote on a Tuesday “just so farmers who have been dead for more than a century won’t have an excuse to miss church.”

This presidential election has shown the good, bad and ugly of Americans and democracy. It’s also brought hyperawareness to my own complacency along with a swift kick in the ass to do something about it.

Yes, I think Election Day should be a federally mandated holiday. Yes, I think voter turnout is lousy — especially in local elections, which are the most important. Yes, I think Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have already made an amazing imprint on our country during this campaign. Yes, I think Hillary Clinton needs to be our next President. Yes, I shudder at the thought of a Trump presidency.

I’ll be honest, it took these extreme circumstances for me to see the bigger picture. I vote in every primary and election and consider myself to be civically engaged, so much so that it is a core value of my company, Witty Gritty. We are a group of passionate Philadelphians who align ourselves with people and projects with purpose.

It’s not enough. That’s what I have had in the back of my head these last couple of months. I haven’t ever fully gotten involved in a political campaign. I’ve always skirted around it by staying “civically engaged” which, up until recently, I separated from being “politically involved.” I’ve helped Rock the Vote efforts before and was involved in Young Involved Philadelphia for many years.

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So, I took my few first steps in these last few weeks toward real political involvement. I signed up with the PHL4HRC initiative in an effort to encourage millennials to take “A Day Off for Democracy” and volunteer to get out the vote on Nov. 8.

Inspired by this cause, I decided to extend paid time off to anyone on my team at Witty Gritty who volunteers this weekend or on Election Day. Shortly after, I heard about Free the Vote and joined the campaign.

Get involved

Free The Vote calls on companies to give their workforce time to vote on Election Day. There’s no good reason that Election Day can’t be taken back by the people if enough of us take a stance. This can start with us business owners. We can make Election Day the day we truly celebrate democracy by allowing everyone the time and space to exercise it — like they do in Puerto Rico, where Election Day is a national holiday resulting in voter turnout being consistently higher than all the 50 states.


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