A Courageous Conversation: Voter Education and Participation in the 2020 Election

Earlier this month Nordstrom hosted a courageous conversation that focused on open, honest, and transparent dialogue with the National Urban League's President and CEO, Marc Morial and Nordstrom employees. Themes from the discussion included a history on racial injustice in the U.S., voter suppression tactics, and the five steps employees can take to reclaim and exercise their right to vote. This conversation comes a month after Nordstrom partnered with When We All Vote and the National Urban League to launch a nationwide non-partisan voter participation initiative, Make Your Voice Heard.

Marc began the conversation with a brief history of voting in the U.S., highlighting both the bright spots of democracy and the low points of discriminatory policymaking. Overall, it was a message of hope and a call to action saying, "We cannot take the right to vote for granted. We cannot allow young people to fall into the traps of cynicism and not participate in the election process. We have to fight, and we have to work to protect that right to vote for every single person — we shouldn't have to, but we do."

He went on to talk about the importance of not just voting in the presidential election, but to also vote for state legislature, mayors, city councils, school boards — everything. "We can't complain if we don't participate in the process," Marc added. To simplify that process, he outlined the Urban League's five steps to reclaim the vote that everyone should embrace.

Step 1: Register to vote. The first and most important step to voting is making sure that you are registered in your state before election day.

Step 2: Check your voting options. Rules around voting vary state-by-state. Some places require you to bring an ID the day of the election, and the types of ID that your state deems acceptable also varies. Other things to keep in mind are:

  • Confirm your registration.
  • Make sure you still live at the address listed on your registration.
  • Make sure the spelling of your name on your ID matches exactly the spelling on your registration.

Step 3: Find your polling location. On election day, every voter has to vote in the assigned location on your registration form. Click here for information on how to find your polling location.

Step 4: Know your candidates and know your issues. Voting is more than deciding who will be President for the next four years. It's choosing who will represent you in Congress, writing laws in your favor or laws against your interests. Click here to find out what's on your state ballot.

Step 5: Make a voting plan & vote. Plan with your household on how you will be voting. Think through the following logistics ahead of time: where, when and how will you be voting, childcare, transportation to the polls, proper identification and ballot tracking.

Marc went on to say that even if voters do not like the candidates on the ballot, there is no excuse not to vote. He recommended looking for candidates with similar values and shared that he rarely finds a candidate who he agrees with on every single issue. "I will never surrender my power to someone else by checking out — I'm going to vote for someone even if they don't excite me. I'm not looking for a Valentine's date or a best friend; I'm simply making a chess move designed to better the community and values in the nation that I live in."

Marc ended the conversation with a brief education on modern voter suppression tactics, including abusive voter deterrent social media ads and targeted robocalls. He shared that voters need to stay vigilant and continue to use their voice. "I want to encourage everyone to reclaim their vote. Make sure you participate, make sure you lend your voice, make sure you're prepared, make sure you have a voting plan. Please tell your friends, family, neighbors, social circles, please raise your voice and encourage people to vote."

About the Make Your Voice Heard Campaign
Make Your Voice Heard is a nationwide non-partisan voter participation initiative. In partnership with nonprofits When We All Vote and the National Urban League, Nordstrom aims to educate, inspire and make it easy for Nordstrom employees and customers to make their voice heard — both through responding to the 2020 Census and by voting in upcoming primaries and elections.  

After the courageous conversation, Pete Nordstrom, president and chief brand officer, expressed his gratitude for the partnership and explained why Nordstrom partnered with When We all Vote and the National Urban League.

"We heard resoundingly from our people that they want to be part of solutions and we developed this campaign in response to them," said Pete. "We owe it to them and the communities we serve to enable them to make their voice heard. It's about our people, their voice, our democratic process and about empowering and enabling them all to vote. We are proud to do our part to support the rich American tradition and responsibility to vote and participate in democracy."
To make getting to the polls easier and ensure everyone has the time to vote, Nordstrom is making November 3, 2020, a holiday for all its U.S. employees. While Nordstrom stores and operations centers remain open, we will work with employees to set schedules, which will enable them to get to the polls.

Voter Resource Hub
Visit the When We All Vote, Voter Resource Hub, to make your plan to vote and more. The hub offers resources for voting in person and by mail, including poll locations, tips for voting on election day, and tracking your ballot.