The largest employers in Nashville have agreed to promote voter registration as part of their hiring process. The project is spearheaded by Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper and Republican state Sen. Steve Dickerson, who last year promoted registration in Nashville high schools and saw an 85 percent bump.
More than 70 organizations have signed on. For full disclosure, the list includes WPLN.
Project Register — as it's called — asks that employers remind workers twice a year that they can now register online to vote and incorporate voter registration as part of employee onboarding. Cooper says there's no excuse for Tennessee to lag behind much of the country in registrations and voter participation, which was nearly dead last in 2014 according to a Pew Research report.
While the request of employers seems fairly simple, it's more complex when a company has 20,000 employees. John Howser who heads communications for Vanderbilt University Medical Center says new hires are already bombarded with info during a half-day orientation.
"So we have to be selective about what things we do include in there, that's why I'm not sure we're ready to make the commitment about having this in the new employee orientation," Howser said. "But we have multiple opportunities every month to communicate about this initiative in communication vehicles we already know are very widely read."
Vanderbilt's human resources department may add the voter registration information to online modules that are completed by new hires prior to orientation.
Aside from Metro government, the largest employers involved are in health care, including the headquarters of HCA and Community Health Systems as well as Saint Thomas Health.