Seattle CEO gives employees the day off for 'Democracy Day'

The CEO of Seattle  software company Outreach is giving all 300 employees across more than a dozen states the day off for the midterm elections — with the sole purpose of employees exercising and celebrating their right to vote.

“Get out, go vote, talk to other people about voting, talk to your family, go hang out with your friends,” CEO and co-founder Manny Medina said. “Discuss the issues that matter to you.”

Medina said he knows his employees, like him, will be captivated by the elections results rolling in. So why not fully engage in the Democratic process, he thought, and celebrate it?

"It's a celebration not of either left or right, or anything in between," he said. "It's a celebration of our freedom to vote and our freedom to decide where the country's going to go based on our own values."
Medina, who is from Ecuador, said election day there was a day to come together.

“Unlike here, the election day and voting is compulsory [there],” he said. “I don’t know that that's the right answer, but taking the day off and celebrating as a family-- it seems to me like the right answer.”

He’s planning an election results party at Outreach’s headquarters in Fremont, and said he recognizes that there will be disagreements as co-workers discuss the issues.

“It’ll be an exercise in being respectful,” Medina said. “An exercise in being inclusive. It will be an exercise in listening to each other.”

In a LinkedIn post, he shared part of the email he sent to employees, writing, “I wanted to honor the importance of the right and duty to vote by creating an observation of Democracy Day.”

He urged other business leaders to do the same. Some responded, saying they were following suit with their own companies.

Many in the Seattle area have already mailed in their ballots, like employee Amanda Lim.

She plans to spend the day at the office, watching results and talking to others about how they will be voting or how they already voted.

“We’ve brought in different teams to come and speak and educate each other,” she said.

Co-worker Danielle Bartoletti hasn’t voted just yet.

“I want to talk to some people who have voted,” she said. “I want to hear passionate debates about why they voted one way or another. And just really hear from my peers -- in the same spaces as me, around the same age group as me, as to why they're making the decisions they are.”

Other companies are stepping up to help people vote, including rideshare companies and Lime Bike.
Lime announced it's offering free rides on bikes on Tuesday to drop boxes. People just have to enter the code LIME2VOTE18 in the Lime app to use a bike for free.

And rideshares like Lyft and Uber want to transport voters, too.

Lyft has announced voters just have to enter the code VOTEWA into the Lyft app to get 50% off a ride to a drop box in King County.

Uber spokesperson Nathan Hambley said when riders open the app on Tuesday, they will see the option to get $10 off the cheapest ride to a ballot drop box. In some areas that will be an Uber pool shared with others, while in other areas it will be an Uber X.

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