Open Letter

We write as concerned political scientists and voting rights experts to urge leaders at all companies, non-governmental organizations, and universities to give their employees, including part-time and hourly, paid time off to vote on Election Day.

Voter turnout in the United States is among the lowest in the world. In the 2014 midterm elections, 33 percent of the voting age population turned out to vote, setting the record for the lowest turnout of any national election in any advanced democracy since 1945. There are many reasons why so few Americans vote but among them is that the US is one of the few countries that hold elections on a workday.

We call on colleges and universities to cancel classes on November 6th to give students time to vote, volunteer and participate in the democratic process. Only one in five students reported having voted in the 2014 midterm elections. Canceling classes on Election Day would send a message that voting is important and should be a priority. On this one day, instead of preparing for the future, students should be taking part in deciding it.

We call on businesses, non-governmental organizations, and other major employers to give workers at least four hours of paid time off on November 6th. Time constraints due to scheduling conflicts with work and school are the most commonly cited reasons for not voting. Finding time to vote during a workday imposes a significant burden that disproportionately affects workers who are paid hourly and have less flexible hours. This is a fundamentally unfair way to conduct elections. In the future, we hope that the federal government will declare Election Day as a national holiday or hold elections during the weekend, as many other countries do. In the meantime, giving workers paid time off to vote will significantly reduce these unequally distributed burdens and ensure everyone is afforded the time they need to vote.

We believe it is important for citizens to understand what is at stake and their vote does matter. Voters face many stark choices in November, and as with any election, decisions will be made that could determine the direction of the country for generations to come. The legitimacy of our democracy depends not just on people having equal rights to vote, but on equal opportunities to vote, and on having representatives chosen by a representative set of citizens.

We understand that our recommendation will impose costs on businesses. At a time of record earnings and strong economic growth, however, we are asking employers and educators to consider our recommendation as an act of patriotism. To help all Americans participate in a most sacred American civic act is an honorable thing to do. In response to those companies who refuse to allow their workers time off on Election Day, we call upon consumers to hold companies to account for putting profit before the health of our democracy.

There is consensus among political scientists, supported by empirical research, that democracy is the best system of government and that democracies perform better when more people vote. Now more than ever, we believe that more Americans need to participate in our democratic process. The less people feel disenfranchised and disconnected from our government, the better.

Giving people time off to vote is something we as citizens can do for each other. We already have witnessed a historic surge in civic engagement as record numbers of people have run for elected office, participated in mass protests, attended political rallies, and registered to vote. Voter enthusiasm, among both parties, is at record levels for midterm elections. We owe it to each other to ensure that none of us is made to choose between voting and earning a paycheck, missing a lecture, or picking up their children on time from daycare.

We encourage employers to follow the lead of Levi Strauss, Lyft, Patagonia, and hundreds of other companies that have already pledged to do the right thing for their employees and our democracy and sign up at electionday.org. We encourage faculty at colleges and universities to do the right thing for their students by canceling classes on Election Day and asking others to do so as well. And we encourage employees, students, and consumers to organize for a fairer, more accessible democracy.

Adam Bonica
Stanford University

Michael McFaul
Stanford University


Join the team of faculty and students who are taking action and encouraging colleges and universities to do the right thing for their students by canceling classes on Election Day. Sign on here!

Make sure you are registered to vote here!


Current Open Letter Co-Signers (Updated Daily)

Alexander Hertel Fernandez
Columbia University

Alison McQueen
Stanford University

Benjamin Page
Northwestern University

Bernard Fraga
Purdue University

Betsy Sinclair
Washington University in St. Louis

Bruce Cain
Stanford University

David Broockman
Stanford University

Doug Spencer
University of Connecticut

Eleanor Powell
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jamie Druckman
Northwestern University

Jane Mansbridge
Harvard University

Jonathan Nagler
New York University

Jonathan Rodden
Stanford University

Josh Cohen
Apple University; University of California, Berkeley

Joshua Geltzer
Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy & Protection

Josiah Ober
Stanford University

Karen Jusko
Stanford University

Lauren Davenport
Stanford University

Lawrence Lessig
Harvard Law School

Martin Gilens
University of California, Los Angeles

Matthew Incantalupo
Yeshiva University

Michael Miller
Barnard College

Nick Beauchamp
Northeastern University

Nicolas Riley
Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy & Protection

Patrick Egan
New York University

Phil Keisling
Portland State University

Thomas Mann
University of California, Berkeley

Seth Wayne
Georgetown’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy & Protection

Josh Tucker
New York University

Robert Putnam
Harvard University

Clayton Nall
Stanford University

Alison Post
University of California, Berkeley

Victoria Shineman
University of Pittsburgh

Aili Mari Tripp
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Yoshiko M. Herrera
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Allison Stanger
Middlebury College

Melissa Lane
Princeton University

Alison Post
University of California, Berkeley

Rachel Beatty Riedl
Northwestern University

Kim Voss
University of California, Berkeley

Melani Cammett
Harvard University

Jenna Bednar
University of Michigan

Leah Stokes
University of California, Santa Barbara

D. Sunshine Hillygus
Duke University

Ruth Grant
Duke University

Arlene W Saxonhouse
University of Michigan

Edie Goldenberg
University of Michigan

Suzanne Berger
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Scott Mainwaring
Harvard University

Margaret Weir
Brown University

Emilee Chapman
Stanford University

Kay L. Schlozman
Boston College

Sheri Berman
Barnard College

Deborah J. Yashar
Princeton University

Frances Rosenbluth
Yale University

Julia Lynch
University of Pennsylvania

Melissa Schwartzberg
New York University

Gretchen Helmke
University of Rochester

Diana Mutz
University of Pennsylvania

Desha Girod
Georgetown University

Bonnie M. Meguid
University of Rochester

Margaret Levi
CASBS at Stanford University

Laia Balcells
Georgetown University

Elisabeth Jean Wood
Yale University

Kathleen R. McNamara
Georgetown University

Mathias Risse
Harvard University

Kathryn Sikkink
Harvard Kennedy School

Alex Keyssar
Harvard University

Seyla Benhabib
Yale University

Ruth Berins Collier
University of California, Berkeley

Suzanne Mettler
Cornell University

Virginia Sapiro
Boston University

Nancy Rosenblum
Harvard University

Valerie Bunce
Cornell University

Wendy Brown
University of California, Berkeley

Anna Grzymala-Busse
Stanford University

Deborah R. Hensler
Stanford Law School

Jae-Jae Spoon
University of Pittsburgh

Jessica Weeks
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Melanie Manion
Duke University

Kimberly Morgan
George Washington University

Debra Javeline
University of Notre Dame

Erica Simmons
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Katherine Cramer
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jason Frank
Cornell University

Jessica T. Pisano
New School for Social Research

Victoria Hui
University of Notre Dame

Scott Gehlbach
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Valerie Sperling
Clark University

Geoffrey Layman
University of Notre Dame

Thomas Moylan Keck
Syracuse University

Kathryn Stoner
Stanford University

Mark Rupert
Syracuse University

Shana Gadarian
Syracuse University

Amitava Dutt
University of Notre Dame

Suzanne Scoggins
Clark University

Michael C. Davis
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Joseph M. Parent
University of Notre Dame

Chris Tausanovitch
University of California, Los Angeles

Danielle Thomson
Syracuse University

Mary McGrath
Northwestern University

Jude C. Hays
University of Pittsburgh

Daniel Galvin
Northwestern University

Sotirios Barber
University of Notre Dame

Sener Akturk
Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

Andrew Little
University of California, Berkeley

Jennifer Hochschild
Harvard University

Alexander Furnas
University of Michigan, Political Science

Mikhail Alexseev
San Diego State University

Norman Ornstein
American Enterprise Institute

Thomas Ogorzalek
Northwestern University

Deborah Baumgold
University of Oregon

Craig Kauffman
University of Oregon

Paula Ganga
University of Rochester

Gary Jacobson
University of California, San Diego

Joseph M. Parent
University of Notre Dame

James Conran
University of Oregon

Jeremy Menchik
Boston University

Lauren A. McCarthy
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Julie Lee Merseth
Northwestern University

Ryan Hübert
University of California, Davis

Milada Anna Vachudova
UNC Chapel Hill

Scott Blinder
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Matthew E. K. Hall
University of Notre Dame

David Campbell
University of Notre Dame

Paasha Mahdavi
University of California, Santa Barbara

Dina Newman
Rochester Institute of Technology

J. Nick Fisk
Yale University

Alexander Von Hagen-Jamar
Carleton College

Linda Bomstad (Fortin)
California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Nora Belzowski
Valparaiso University

Jean Taber
Chapman University

Kristen DeAngelis
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Rohit Puskoor
Northwestern University

Aaron Slutkin
Duke University

Andrew Ireland
Georgetown University

Cheryl Hurley
DeVry University

Noam Lupu
Vanderbilt University

Deborah Lazio
Humboldt State University

Jonathan Achter
Stanford University

Rana Khoury
Northwestern University

Schaun Davis
University of Utah

Jan Leighley
American University

Mark Buntaine
University of California, Santa Barbara

Ethan Porter
George Washington University

Peter Lorentzen
University of San Francisco

Blake A Miller
Dartmouth College

Elliott Collins
University of California, Berkeley

Thomas Pepinsky
Cornell University

Andrew Ballard
American University

Nicole Feldman
Stanford University – Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Didi Kuo
Stanford University

Jacob Hacker
Yale University

Daniel Mallinson
Penn State Harrisburg

Sean M. Aday
George Washington University

Bethany Albertson
University of Texas, Austin

Ross Zucker
Touro College and University System

Ken Schultz
Stanford University

Mary G Dietz
Northwestern University

Adam Seth Levine
Cornell University

Lily Lamboy
Stanford university

Emily Farris
TCU

Ian McDonald
Lewis & Clark College

Laura Bucci
Saint Joseph’s University

David Redlawsk
University of Delaware

Michael Leo Owens
Emory University

Samara Klar
University of Arizona

Jennie Ikuta
University of Tulsa

Sara Morell
University of Michigan

Michael Salamone
Washington State University

John Brooks
Auburn University at Montgomery

David Darmofal
University of South Carolina

Jeffrey Broxmeyer
University of Toledo

Zack Bonner
The University of Alabama

Erica Simmons
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Benjamin I. Page
Northwestern University

Austin Horng-En Wang
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Annabelle Hutchinson
Yale University

Jon Green
Ohio State University

Christopher Faricy
Syracuse University

Mike Gruszczynski
Indiana University

Christopher Faricy
Syracuse University

Lisa Kelley
University of California, San Diego

Christopher M. Federico
University of Minnesota

Seva Gunitsky
University of Toronto

Bryan Nakayama
Mount Holyoke College

Dan Cassino
Fairleigh Dickinson University

Floyd Zhang
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Amy Fried
University of Maine

Abby Wood
USC Gould School of Law

Vladimir Medenica
University of Chicago

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner
Boston Area Research Initiative, Harvard University and Northeastern University

Jesse Crosson
University of Michigan

Elizabeth Suhay
American University

Amber Wichowsky
Marquette University

Elizabeth Bergman
California State University East Bay

Jason Poulos
University of California, Berkeley

Richard Maass
University of Evansville

Matthew Motta
University of Pennsylvania & Yale University

Aaron Sparks
Elon University

Dominik Stecula
University of Pennsylvania

Thomas Hayes
University of Connecticut

Yphtach Lelkes
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Sherifa Zuhur
IMEISS

Holona Ochs
Lehigh University

Chris Prince
University of North Carolina

Michael Barber
BYU

Katherine Welsh
Stanford University

Sara Chatfield
University of Denver

Lynda Powell
University of Rochester

Cara Wong
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Theodore Lechterman
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Geoffrey Upton
Seton Hall University

Melinda Campbell
National University

Frederick Solt
University of Iowa

Melissa Rogers
Claremont Graduate University

Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

John Ahlquist
University of California, San Diego

Tabitha Bonilla
Northwestern University

Alexander Coppock
Yale University

Hans Noel
Georgetown University

Devin Judge-Lord
University of Wisconsin

Sabrina Beth Arias
University of Pennsylvania

Dari Tran
University of the Pacific

Sumita Pahwa
Scripps College

Kathleen Thelen
MIT

Simon Gilhooley
Bard College

Steven Klein
University of Florida

John Brehm
University of Chicago

Sean Burns
College of William and Mary

Chris Warshaw
George Washington University

Miranda Yaver
Tufts University

Colin Brown
Northeastern University

Lauren Prather
University of California, San Diego

Philip J. Howe
Adrian College

Andrew Saultz
Pacific University

Leah M Graham, PhD
University of North Alabama

Kenneth Powell
University of Michigan

Nina Hagel
Bates College

Kevin Shackelford
California State University Fullerton

Kyle L. Kreider
Wilkes University

Michael Latner
California Polytechnic State University

Gail M Rodriguez
University of Kansas

Susan Aaronson
George Washington University

Christina Cottiero
University of California, San Diego

Frank Gonzalez
University of Arizona

Philip Rocco
Marquette University

Nathan Kalmoe
Louisiana State University

Naomi Aaronson
SUNY Suffolk

Mac Lockhart
University of California, San Diego

W Sam Stein
Pacific University

Ethan Busby
Clemson University

Robert Mickey
University of Michigan

Bruce Larson
Gettysburg College

Sam Handlin
Swarthmore College

Pinar Kemerli
New York University

Justin Zimmerman
Northwestern University

Todd A. Curry
University of Texas at El Paso

Alexandra Cirone
Cornell University

David Estlund
Brown University

R. Bruce Hitchner
Tufts University

Mara Suttmann-Lea
Connecticut College

Helene Landemore
Yale University

Rob Sobak
Bowdoin College

Michael Miller
George Washington University

John Ma
Columbia University

Catherine Warrick
Villanova University

Dr. Jeremy Tausch
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Evan Crawford
University of San Diego

Andrew Reeves
Washington University in St. Louis

David Lazer
Northeastern University

Amy Erica Smith
Iowa State University

Ana Bracic
University of Oklahoma

Jonathan Bendor
Stanford University

Zach Warner
Cardiff University

Dan Edelstein
Stanford University

Eva Anduiza
CASBS, Stanford University

Pamala Karol, MFA
Los Angeles City College

Miriam Golden
University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University

Scott Greer
University of Michigan

Andrew J. Alexander
University of Tennessee-Martin

Jarret Crawford
The College of New Jersey

Mia Bloom
Georgia State University

Andreea Maierean
Wilkes University

Matt Duell
Stony Brook University

Thomas J. Baldino
Wilkes University

Kevin Lanning
Florida Atlantic University

Linda J. Skitka
University of Illinois at Chicago

Glory M. Liu
Brown University

Caroline Abadeer
Stanford university

Andrew Wilczak
Wilkes University

Mirya Holman
Tulane University

David Teegarden
University at Buffalo

Robyn Marasco
Hunter College, CUNY

Tim O’Brien
Harvard Kennedy School

Rebecca Reid
University of Texas at El Paso

Douglas Pierce
California Polytechnic University

Jeffrey C. Isaac
Indiana University, Bloomington

Vujo Ilic
Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Belgrade, Serbia)

Sharon Krause
Brown University

Billy G. Smith
Montana State University Bozeman

Julie Hwang
Goucher College

Hakeem Jefferson
Stanford University

Ben Fifield
Princeton University

Andrew Reeves
Washington University in St. Louis

Kirsten Wysen
2018-2019 CASBS fellow, Stanford University and Public Health-Seattle & King County

Isebill Gruhn
University of California, Santa Cruz

Sara Forsdyke
University of Michigan

Mark Fathi Massoud
University of California, Santa Cruz

Ezekiel Luther Wright
University of Minnesota Twin Cities

James Eichinger
University of Rochester

Scott Siegel
San Francisco State University

Ethan Scheiner
University of California, Davis

Daniel Braaten
Texas Lutheran University

Guy Grossman
University of Pennsylvania

Isaac Hale
University of California, Davis

David Gordon
University of California, Santa Cruz

Susan Hyde
University of California, Berkeley

Emily Mackil
University of California, Berkeley

Melanie Springer
University of California, Santa Cruz

Rose McDermott
Brown University

Juliet Hooker
Brown University

Judith Hurtado-Ortiz
Ohlone College

Charles McClean
University of California, San Diego

Shannon Jenkins
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Salil Benegal
DePauw University

Veronica Michel
John Jay College-CUNY

Sarah Moore
Northwestern University

Jake Bowers
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Josh Busby
University of Texas-Austin

Rachel Cristy
Princeton University

Kristin Goss
Duke University

Elisabeth Anker
George Washington University

William Marble
Stanford University

Jeremiah J Garretson
California State University – East Bay

Francis Fukuyama
Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University

Joy Connolly
CUNY Graduate Center

Maya Tudor
Oxford University

Laurence H. Tribe
Harvard Law School

Joy Connolly
CUNY Graduate Center

Gregory Martin
Stanford University

Cecile Alduy
Stanford University

Miriam Golden
University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford University

Kevin Reuning
Miami University

John Carey
Dartmouth College

Deondra Rose
Duke University

Lilliana Mason
University of Maryland

Jake Haselswerdt
University of Missouri

Judith Goldstein
Stanford University

Patrick Bray
Ohio State

Keith Weghorst
Vanderbilt University

Avital Livny
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Robert McGrath
George Mason University

Robert Kubinec
Princeton University

Jennifer Merolla
University of California, Riverside

Clare Brock
Texas Woman’s University

Ben Miller
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Alex Bolton
Emory University

Pablo Fernandez-Vazquez
University of Pittsburgh

Hubert Tworzecki
Emory University

Avi Green
Scholars Strategy Network

Amel Ahmed
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Ryan Balot
University of Toronto

Rob Robinson
California State University, Fullerton

Josh Lappen
Stanford University, Oxford University

Brian Palmer-Rubin
Marquette University

Jason McDaniel
San Francisco State University

Jennifer Nicoll Victor
George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government

Elizabeth Armstrong
University of Michigan

Archon Fung
John F. Kennedy School, Harvard University

Stephen M. Walt
Harvard University

Jessica Rich
Marquette University

Michael A McCarthy
Marquette University

Emily Nacol
University of Toronto

Megan Gallagher
Vanderbilt University

Joe Soss
University of Minnesota

Sarah E. Parkinson
Johns Hopkins University

Michael Rich
Emory University

Deborah Avant
University of Denver

Gabriel Fondaras Goffman
Duke University

John Shrode
University of California, Los Angeles

Daniela Cammack
Yale University

David Singh Grewal
Yale University

Tomer Perry
Minerva Schools at KGI

Laila Wahedi
Georgetown University

Mark Henkels
Western Oregon University

Emily Koch
Virginia Tech

Jessica Green
University of Toronto

Matt Hanson
University of Massachusetts Boston

Sara Rushing
Montana State University

Thania Sanchez
Yale University

Matthew S. Winters
University of Illinois

Roselyn Hsueh
Temple University

Theo Goetemann
Georgetown University

Mehul Shah
Bucks County Community College

Zack Teibloom
Indiana University

Joe Schmitz
Western Illinois University

Ted Jacobson
University of Maryland

Yuliya Ilchuk
Stanford University

Daniel Carpenter
Harvard University

Torrey Shanks
University of Toronto

Kabir Khanna
Princeton University

Phoebe C. Ellsworth
University of Michigan