‘Getting-Out-the-Vote’ in our communities
Wells Fargo is educating, engaging, and empowering its U.S. employees to exercise their right to vote and reminding customers of their civic opportunity.
Nota del editor: También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.
Editor's note: Oct. 16, 2020 — This story has been updated to reflect a policy change increasing paid time away for U.S. employees to vote.
When LaWanda Blair-Foster casts her ballot, she’s not just voicing her opinions and wishes for the future. She’s thinking of the past, too.
“When I vote, I honor the efforts of African American women who championed equal rights in two long-fought battles, one as women and then as African Americans,” said Blair-Foster, business initiatives consultant for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Through its companywide 2020 Get-Out-the-Vote initiative, Wells Fargo is committed to educating, engaging, and empowering its U.S. employees like Blair-Foster to make a difference by exercising their right to vote. It is also reminding customers of their civic opportunity through ATM ads and virtual voter registration drives.
The company also has a nonpartisan site, Wells Fargo Votes, with information about voter registration deadlines, election updates, candidates, and more.
“Wells Fargo encourages everyone to participate in this year’s U.S. electoral process in two powerful ways — by completing the U.S. census and making plans to vote,” said Bill Daley, vice chairman of Public Affairs for Wells Fargo. “Your vote is your voice and helps decide who our next president is, as well as who represents you in Congress and in many other important state and local offices. It’s especially important that everyone know their voting options, as states make changes to safely navigate this new environment.”
Wells Fargo provides up to three hours of paid time away for U.S. employees to vote. As voters prepare for the remaining state primaries and the general election on Nov. 3, Wells Fargo employees shared why it’s important to them to vote — and what their plans are for casting their ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Voting is an individual act of history making’
Rajiv Agarwal, trade services manager in Charlotte, especially recognizes the importance of his right to vote after he was denied that right while living in another country years ago, when someone used his name to vote for multiple years.
“My vote is the tool that the Constitution has provided me so I can voice my opinion on the direction of the nation,” Agarwal said. “It is an opportunity to select a leader who represents my views the closest. This is what keeps a democracy moving forward. I consider myself very fortunate to have the privilege to vote to select our next leader, and I will make sure I fulfill my obligation using one of the means available.”
Sheila Totty, account resolution specialist in Roanoke, Virginia, said she doesn’t take her freedoms lightly either. “To me, voting means making a choice,” Totty said. “When a person is an elected official, there is power granted in that position. In essence, candidates are applying for a job. The people in office are representing not only others, but me specifically.”
Like Totty, employees Patrick St. Fleur, corporate trust relationship manager in Atlanta, and June Nero, complaints/escalated operations manager in Chandler, Arizona, said they both prepare to vote by researching the candidates and issues relevant to their communities.
“Voting is a chance at civic participation,” St. Fleur said. “I want to make sure my voice is included in showing my pleasure and displeasure of how things are — and how I hope things can be.”
While the places, ways, and reasons these employees vote may be different, they agree that voting is important. “Voting is a privilege,” Nero said. “Whether it’s your first time or your 50th, small town or big city, voting is an individual act of history making.”
Honoring history and Election Day traditions
Blair-Foster currently plans to vote in person and has a tradition of providing rides for young adults she mentors who may not have transportation to the polls. She’s still hoping to continue her traditions — but with some safety precautions like wearing masks and having hand sanitizer and wipes on hand.
“I am honored women fought so hard to ensure I have a right to vote,” Blair-Foster said. “How dare I not exercise that right.”
Eileen Fuzer, regional branch manager in Moorestown, New Jersey, agreed.
“I am joining with my friends to promote this historic 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment being ratified by Congress,” said Fuzer, who is from the same New Jersey town as women’s rights activist and suffragist Alice Paul. “Through social media, I am highlighting the efforts of our local suffragette who petitioned lawmakers, protested, and was also jailed for her efforts in gaining this right for women.”
Fuzer said she received a mail-in ballot for the New Jersey primary and isn’t sure how she’ll vote in November. She said voting in person has always been her preference, especially when her children were younger and would come with her to the polling place.
Alfredo Pedroza, senior director for Government Relations and Public Policy in San Francisco, also has a family tradition when it comes to voting. For at least 15 years, his family has voted by mail. Before voting, they gather to talk about issues and candidates on or around Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which usually precedes Election Day. His family plans to continue their tradition, most likely virtually, this year.
“As we come together to honor our family members who have passed, including those who served in the U.S. military, we look to the future of our family, our community, and our country as we each cast our vote,” Pedroza said.
Inspiring youth and our communities
Elizabeth Spiller, personal banker in Sugar Land, Texas, will be voting in her first election in November. Spiller, 29, is planning on voting early and encouraging her family and friends to do the same.
“I realized my vote does matter,” she said. “I have two kids that I want to influence, and I want them to know how important it is to vote and to take advantage of this right. So many people in this country think their votes aren’t going to make a difference, and I once also believed that, but it is not true.”
Vickee Adams, communicator in Des Moines, Iowa, said she is planning to vote by absentee ballot while working remotely in Washington, D.C. Commenting that she takes democracy very seriously, she has advocated for voting and civil rights all of her life. She and her husband frequently host Get-Out-the-Vote events at their home.
“In hosting these events, it’s the most connected we have ever felt to our nation’s future,” Adams said. “We made a difference for our precinct, our neighborhood, its schools and teachers, our local parks, and our taxes. Wells Fargo makes it possible for employees to participate in Get-Out-the-Vote activities and provides time for people to vote. It’s important, and it matters for all of our lives.”