Baton Rouge businesses offer flexibility in allowing employees to vote Tuesday

    Ahead of predicted long lines at the polls, several Baton Rouge companies are planning to be flexible with employees on Tuesday for Election Day. 

    Scott Ritter of Ritter Maher Architects says he and his partner will have several employees working from home taking care of their children while schools are closed to serve as polling locations.  

    “You can’t help but to be flexible because of the pandemic,” Ritter says. “As happy as I am to allow them to work from home for safety because of the pandemic, I’m equally happy to let them take time off to exercise the right to vote.”

    At Brown & Root Industrial Services, salaried employees are being given time off to vote, says President and CEO Andy Dupuy. While at Postlethwaite & Netterville, salaried employees are communicating with their immediate supervisors about their voting plans. 

    “We know the lines are going to be long but we certainly will allow our employees the flexibility they need to make their vote count,” says Karen Breaux, director of human resources at Postlethwaite & Netterville. “We think it’s important our employees have the opportunity to exercise their civic responsibility to vote.”

    Padma Vatsavai, founder and CEO of Vinformatix, estimates about 95% of her staff already cast their ballots during early voting. With the software development company being located down the street from City Hall, employees went over in small groups to vote together.

    “We all talked internally and made it an internal mini-activity, and we had some pretty days, too, that made it easy to walk over and vote early to avoid lines,” Vatsavai says. “It’s important to vote and anything we can do to support 100% voting turnout—that’s the key.” 

    The Baton Rouge companies are part of a civic awakening in corporate America. According to The New York Times, thousands of companies are encouraging voter participation this year by offering workers paid time off, voter-education tools and interactive sessions on how elections work. Some are even providing marketing and free legal advice to local election boards or nonprofit get-out-the-vote groups.

    Most companies are quick to say that their goal isn’t to wade into politics or get any particular candidate into office. Rather, many executives told The New York Times that they were galvanized by recent upheavals that have put issues of race and gender discrimination, economic inequality, climate change and other topics at center stage for employees and customers, and voting is a way to take a stand. 

    Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin today sent out a reminder that polls open at 6 a.m. tomorrow and close at 8 p.m. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Voters can find their polling location and sample ballot by downloading the GeauxVote Mobile app for smartphones or by visiting www.GeauxVote.com. Voters should bring an ID with them to vote and those without an ID will be required to fill out an affidavit but will be allowed to vote. Election results can be viewed in real-time via GeauxVote Mobile or at www.sos.la.gov.   

    See Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister’s endorsements for the upcoming election in his recent opinion piece here.