A Message From POC@Okta Leadership: Here’s How Your Vote Counts

Okta’s passion for the democratic process starts at the top, with our CEO Todd McKinnon, who understands that every identity and voice must be represented in the voting process. As an organization, Okta has taken steps to make voting easier by rolling out a vote.gov app—connecting employees and customers to a public website to help find voter registration information in every state. Okta employees are encouraged to take advantage of our flexible PTO policy to volunteer their time leading up to and on Election Day, to assist at the polls, call/text eligible voters, or support election activities and nonprofits.

Our actions to get out the vote

People of Color@Okta knows the importance of partnering with feet-on-the-ground organizations who engage within their communities. During this election cycle, our POC, DIB and Okta for Good representatives, who make up Okta’s Racial Justice and Equity Employee Advisory Board, focused on procuring 2nd-round grants for nonprofits supporting voting rights. These organizations enable more Americans to register, engage, and vote. The following three organizations were chosen:

  • Rock the Vote for their focus on building young people's political power and increasing their participation in our democracy.
  • Nonprofit Vote as a partner who provides resources to America’s nonprofits, integrating voter engagement into ongoing activities and services—during and beyond the election.
  • Organizing Empowerment Project for providing technology that enables a network of nonprofits with training, research and digital tools. These resources are used to mobilize volunteers to share personal stories with friends and family around the issues that matter to them most.

This election moment

Historically, it’s the presidential contest that consistently consumes our attention, and is often the only one that most voters participate in. And, while the current presidential election cycle is critically important, it is and will always be, the local elections and initiatives that have the biggest impact on our daily lives and households. This fact is especially true for people of color, the poor, and younger voters. The sanctity and quality of life starts at home: our values, priorities, family, income, sense of safety, and well being. It is the local elections that affect these things, and we own the power to decide on them for ourselves and our communities. This video by YelloPain beautifully illustrates how, through systemic policies, this reality can get lost in plain sight.

Choosing not to vote in an election is like giving someone permission to use your annual salary without input from you! Or to take over the use of your home and car for your household—without your say. It’s important to remember that it’s the voice of voters who control our tax dollars to run our government and Install our leaders.

As described in YelloPain’s video, congressional elections take place every two years rather than the 4-year presidential ones, while state and local races happen every year. Our current election ballot includes United States representatives in Congress and important candidates and initiatives that impact how our states, counties and cities are run. It’s important to vote the entire ballot, and to continue to vote in every election.

Still not convinced? Let me break it down

Our judges and attorneys

In local elections, it’s our elected judges who wield the power to imprison people or provide second chances. The district attorney and attorney general also hold extraordinary power—from decisions on who to charge, to sentencing recommendations. They can also choose to prosecute police misconduct or condone it by failing to act.

Our city boards and leaders

These are the officials who can fight for more funding for teachers, alter police budgets, and/or advocate for student safety as the pandemic rages on. City comptrollers oversee the financial realities of a city–our taxes and financial reports–ensuring that our dollars are being used appropriately on behalf of our communities. And it’s the members of the city council who decide where that local money goes. The decisions these individuals make can affect all of us, but are especially impactful to those who cannot otherwise advocate for themselves.

Our state and local governments

All of these leaders exercise important functions: planning for roads, public schools, providing water, law enforcement and policing, fire services, zoning regulations, business licenses, and elections. Our local elected officials dictate local laws, policies and budgets that affect us the most, and these officials are being elected every year—with low voter involvement.

Now, think about your own home, where you may be sitting now. You guard who’s allowed in, the rules they must abide by in your space, and limit how long they can stay. You set the ground rules, and reject the chaos that might ensue if you didn’t. Voting is our opportunity to remove chaos from our cities, states and federal policies, and to stand up for the issues we care about like racial and gender equality, addressing climate change, and/or funding our local schools.

Taking action

Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. And in the most simple terms, politicians listen to two things: money and votes. If we work together as a community and increase voter turnout, our state and national legislators are forced to listen to our needs. If you don’t vote, someone else makes these choices for you.

  • The most important thing we can all do is vote—not just for president, but for every race and measure on the ballot. What happens in your city and county impacts your household!
  • Know what’s going on in your community by tapping into information about your city, county and state. Sign up for local communications and engage in the areas that matter to you.
  • Lastly, connect with organizations and agencies who have boots on the ground:
    • Rock the Vote: Find all the deadlines, dates, requirements, registration options, and information on how to vote in your state.
    • Nonprofit Vote:: Access resources and training for the nonprofit sector on how to conduct nonpartisan voter participation and election activities.
    • Organizing Empowerment Project: Amplify the potential of volunteers through training, research and digital tools, and expertise in relational organizing for hundreds of progressive organizations.
    • Voter Registration | Vote.gov: Pass on this official government site that provides users with area-specific information on how to register to vote.
    • https://ballotpedia.org: Use this online encyclopedia of American politics and information to verify your ballot.
    • www.sos.ca.gov: Check out this resource to verify that your household has received an official “Voter Information Guide” with detailed analyses and more information about supporters and opponents.

Get involved, stay Involved!