By Katherine Hetherington Cunfer, Director of Government & Community Relations, GRCA
Tuesday, Nov. 8 is the date of the 2022 General Election, an important day in Pennsylvania. Voters can choose pivotal state and federal leaders that will make decisions that affect our daily lives for the next two to six years. Participation in this basic civic duty is something everyone who is legally able should engage in.
The first step in this process is getting registered to vote. The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) is asking all Berks County employers to encourage your employees to register and to vote in 2022. GRCA is participating in the national “Employee Voter Registration Week,” being held Sept. 26 to Sept. 30. This effort asks employers to share non-partisan voter registration and voting process information with employees to ensure employees can meet registration deadlines for the upcoming election.
This effort is necessary because we still have over 1 million Pennsylvanians that could register to vote that are not currently registered. In Berks County, only 265,000 of our over 432,000 citizens are registered to vote. The goal of this program is to normalize voting and make it a habit so that more people participate in all elections. In 2020, over 75% of registered voters participated in the General Election, but such high turnout is normal for a presidential year. We are also often reminded that every vote counts — take the recent loss by Lehigh Valley’s long-tenured Sen. Pat Browne to his challenger in the May primary by less than 20 votes.
Employers have an important role to play in this issue, but sadly, far too many shy away from engaging their employees in registering to vote or educating employees on issues that affect the business they work for. Based on a 2018 election study by Moore Institute and the Business & Industry PAC, most employees surveyed want their employers to be engaged in sharing public policy and voter education information, but less than a quarter of businesses do. For those employees who received election information, half of those employees chose to register to vote. The study also concluded that most employees who received information about voting and policy issues affecting their employer appreciated that the company took the time to inform them, increased their respect for the company and support for the company’s core mission and values and considered themselves a more informed citizen.
Businesses that would like to engage their employees about getting registered to vote should use two key principles – keep it simple and keep it non-partisan. Effective outreach efforts include posting information on employee bulletin boards, offering a table with voter registration packets in the employee break room, or hosting an employee lunch with voter registration information and talking to your employees about how important it is to vote. With the changing state and federal maps, it would be extremely beneficial to make sure your employees know that they might live in a different district and encourage that they become educated on who will be on the ballot. You can always ask your legislator or a GRCA representative to meet with your employees to talk about this and other issues.
As we get closer to the election, it will be important for employers to share information such as the deadline to register for a mail-in ballot or for employees to verify the location of their polling place. That information can be easily accessed on GRCA’s Action Center, VotePA.gov or the County of Berks Election Services Department. Employers of all sizes have seen success when they encouraged employees to vote