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Hollywood Companies Give Time Off for Tuesday’s Election

Hollywood is holding its collective breath over next Tuesday’s presidential election, with some people so nervous they can barely work. And at some workplaces they don’t have to – at least not on Election Day.

At least half a dozen entertainment companies are giving their employees some, or all, of the day off Nov. 8 to assure they have time to vote, and maybe to spend a little time massaging their worry beads.

Companies giving their workers at least part of the day off next Tuesday include CAA, Bad Robot, Funny or Die, Magnolia Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions, and Landmark Theaters, according to Noah Fradin, an activist encouraging companies to provide time for voting.

Fradin, 23, works for an artificial intelligence startup in Seattle. He started the non-profit Take Tuesday to encourage companies to clear time for the democratic process, pointing to research that showed the U.S. ranks 138th out of 197 countries in voter turnout. More than one-third of those who don’t vote cite conflicts with work or school.

“I think people assume employees can go before work, but that often creates a lot of problems,” said Fradin. “For some people it’s not possible, with other obligations. And it creates long lines at the beginning and the end of the day that have been known to go on for hours in some areas.”

Fradin pointed to studies that show that low-income and minority communities suffer such delayed voting disproportionately. “If we want higher voter turnout and an election that is as representative of our population as possible, we need to be mindful of ways we can make it easier for people to vote,” Fradin said.

Fradin believes that entertainment companies are particularly influential and that their accommodation of employees’ voting will encourage other companies to take the leap. Among other big employers that give time off for voting are Ford, GM, and Chrysler.

Fradin’s upstart organization hopes one day to make election days a holiday, or to move voting to the weekend. The activist is not the first to grapple with the voter-expansion issue. Another non-profit, Why Tuesday?, has argued for weekend voting for the past nine years. The group — once headed by current MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff — helped inspire the introduction of the Weekend Voting Act in Congress.

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