When I was a senior in high school, I wrote an essay for the local DAR writing contest on the subject of “Our American heritage and our responsibility to preserve it.” As an almost 18-year-old, the answer to preserving our American heritage was already on my radar as I anxiously awaited my birthday so I could register to vote. Believe it or not, I found that very essay during our move this summer. I wish I had it in front of me now to envision the world of voting through the lens of a much less complicated political climate.

I don’t remember all of the points I attempted to make in the essay, but I remember one part vividly. Voting isn’t just a right; it’s a responsibility. Just because I didn’t fight for the right to vote does not diminish the fact that men and women put their lives in harm’s way each and every day to secure our freedoms – freedoms many of us take for granted. Your vote is your voice about the America you want to preserve and the America you want for generations to come. Don’t let a long line be your excuse for not voting. My good friend Chris Clark with the Georgia Chamber wrote a great piece in the AJC about the importance of casting your ballot. Click here to read more.

Finally, employers, HR managers, or anyone with supervisory authority, there is no law requiring employers to grant paid time off to vote. In fact according to Ga. Code Ann. § 21-2-404, employers must give an employee up to two hours of time off to vote, unless the polls are open for two consecutive hours before or after the employee’s work shift. The employer may specify the time when employees may be absent. Employers are not required to provide paid time off to vote. That said, you are in a position to encourage your team to get out and vote and to provide an environment supportive of this very important exercise of democracy. Early voting ends this Friday at 5:00 p.m. Learn more about early voting and the election here.