HR Professionals Get Out the Vote for 2016 Elections

SHRM state councils and chapters collaborate to encourage voting

By Kathy Gurchiek Aug 19, 2016

With November elections just weeks away, the Southeast Region of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is urging HR professionals to vote and educating political candidates on issues that affect HR.

SHRM state councils and chapters in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia have taken on a "get out the vote" effort called Shape Our Future.

The council and chapter members are focusing on voter education: teaching children about the electoral process, giving voters ballot and precinct information, providing updates on changes to area voting laws, and hosting local candidates at chapter meetings.

The project evolved from a meeting where Jeff Luttrell, SHRM-SCP, director of global talent acquisition and staffing for outsourcing/offshoring company Alorica, proposed that the Southeast region collaborate to promote some of SHRM's legislative objectives and "help us get in front of our local politicians in each of our states" to be their resource. Luttrell is director of the SHRM North Carolina State Council and past president of the Raleigh-Durham, N.C.-area SHRM chapter.

"Many times there are [political and business] issues that affect the workplace or human resources. Most of the elected officials in our area are on a state and local level and don't know what SHRM is, what a SHRM chapter does, what a [SHRM] state council does," Luttrell told SHRM Online.

Through this initiative, "We want to promote getting people out to vote. We want to show the HR community that we have an impact on what's happening on our local political environment," he said.

Often elections are decided by a small number of votes, Luttrell observed.

"We are a political bloc and we can have an impact on what's happening in the political world and help drive some agendas around things that are important to the HR community."

Here is what the individual states are doing as part of the Shape Our Future initiative:

Alabama: The state council distributed voter registration forms at its state conference in May, along with a letter encouraging people to register to vote and to urge others to register. The council also sent material to its members, chapter presidents and their legislative directors to distribute and sent reminders to employers to allow workers time off to vote.

Florida: The state council plans to have links to Florida's Board of Elections website for information on registering to vote, finding precinct locations and obtaining absentee ballots as well as to update personal information such as addresses. Some chapters, such as the SHRM-Emerald Coast Chapter, are inviting their county supervisor of elections to speak at meetings and are providing members with sample ballots, an opportunity to register to vote and opportunities to sign up as volunteer poll workers.

Georgia: The state council plans to share 2016 election guidelines—upcoming elections, dates for early and absentee voting, Georgia voter identification requirements and voting rights information—with its chapter presidents and legislative chairmen. It's also promoting Election Day on its Facebook page and Twitter accounts and hosting a reception with elected officials during its state conference in September.

Kentucky: The state council is setting up a table during its state convention in August with information on voter registration and distributing material to promote voting. It is asking each of its chapters to include a notice on its website indicating when polls will be open in its area and reminding people to vote.

North Carolina: The state council created a toolkit for local chapters with information that includes changes in voting rules. It also created a toolkit for its student members to educate them about their voting rights, absentee voting and rules about voting at their precincts. It is promoting the importance of employers providing employees with time off to vote and is considering inviting local candidates to meet HR professionals at its state conference in September. Chapters also are considering hosting local candidates at their meetings.

Mississippi: The state council is working with the state to re-start the "Kids Voting" initiative that was discontinued in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The aim is to educate grade-school students on the electoral process and the importance of good citizenship.

South Carolina: The state council is compiling voter information that it will distribute to its chapters.

Tennessee: The state council's legislative chairman is providing information on the local and state candidates' positions on HR initiatives and ballot issues such as minimum wage. It is posting that information to its website, along with links related to voter registration, and asking state chapters to replicate that information on their own websites.

Virginia: The state council created a voter toolkit that it shared at its state conference in May and at council and chapter meetings.



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