Nov. 3 is right around the corner, and it will be an Election Day unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The combination of firmly entrenched political divides, a Presidential election, and COVID-19's logistical challenges all mean it's more important than ever for voters to be educated and active. 

The single biggest factor in whether pro-banking laws will be enacted is whether candidates who support banks end up in office. Our association’s stellar Advocacy Team does excellent work on our behalf at both the state and federal level, but WBA can’t vote for you. We can level the playing field for them by helping elect pro-banking candidates. 

According to Pew Research Center, the 2018 midterms had record voter turnout, but still only 56% of eligible voters actually cast a ballot. A Pew survey in 2018 found that lack of convenience is a big factor, especially among younger voters. As bank and community leaders, we must set a standard for political involvement by modeling for our staff and communities the importance of being a part of local, state, and federal elections.

How can we encourage our fellow bankers and our staff to vote? I have a few ideas...

  • Look up your ballot and research the candidates. Visit MyVote.wi.gov and enter your address to see what’s on your ballot. If you have any questions about a candidate’s positions related to banking, contact WBA’s advocacy team (608-441-1200) for more insight. 
  • Encourage early and mail-in voting. Wisconsin law allows every eligible voter to request an absentee ballot (no excuse necessary). If you or anyone on your staff says they’re not voting because they aren’t comfortable going to the polls in person, point them to MyVote.wi.gov to request an absentee ballot. WBA has a guide on how to vote absentee available at www.wisbank.com/articles/2020/07/safe-quick-convenient-it-s-absentee-voting-s-time-to-shine
  • Consider adding paid time off on Election Day to your vacation policy. For resources and ideas of how to structure a staff “voting day,” including offering 1-4 hours of PTO and/or making Nov. 3 a day without meetings, visit MakeTimeToVote.org.

No matter what you do to encourage your peers to vote, don’t forget to make time to get to the polls yourself. Wisconsin could be the swing state that decides the Presidential election this year, which is why none of us can escape the barrage of political ads (over 4,800 of them aired on TV just between May and early July). It’s also why as many Wisconsinites as possible need to cast our votes. It’s our responsibility. 

Kohler is President of Charter Bank, Eau Claire and WBA Chair.