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Who are you voting for, boss? Featured

9:34am EDT July 22, 2002

Religion and politics.

They are the two taboos. Employers avoid the topics as much as possible. But with political messages so pervasive, just try to find a company where the names Bush and Gore haven't been mentioned in the past week.

"Around election time, those conversations always happen," says David Zanotti, president of the Ohio Roundtable. "We try an awful lot to keep politics out of the workplace, but you can't do it when you have a major election."

In an effort to keep the peace, the Ohio Roundtable has created a freestanding Web site, www.Decision2000.com, to which employers can refer their workers for information on the candidates and issues.

"I know employers sometimes wish they could tell their people who to go vote for," Zanotti says. "They know that in many instances, they see things the same, but they won't do that. Similarly, it's almost impossible to get employees information that isn't partisan in its nature.

"Decision 2000 becomes a place where people can go and refer other people that is safe and extremely informative."

There are more practical reasons, as well.

"Employers concerned about the EEOC are more gun-shy than ever because they don't want to get into trouble," Zanotti says. "They can say, 'Go check this site. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but I'll tell you where I get good information.'"

Information is king

"The majority of people will not focus on who they're voting for until 10 days prior," Zanotti says. "In many cases, 50 percent of the decisions get made in the last 24 to 48 hours. People go into a panic because they know they've got to go to the polls. They know what they're going to do on president; they know what they're going to do on big-name races.

"But they don't know who's running for state rep and they haven't got a clue about the state school board."

Using the Decision 2000 site, voters can tailor their search.

"The site allows people to build their own personal voter's guide," Zanotti says. "The site takes your ZIP code and assembles the pages necessary to cover your races, from the Statehouse to the White House."

Armed with that information, Zanotti says people can make good choices.

"The motivation behind this is the fundamental belief that in a representative republic, the more people who vote, the healthier the country will be," he says. "The biggest reason people don't vote is not because they don't care, it's because they care so much that they don't want to make a mistake. People are afraid to go there and face a very long ballot where they know so little.

"After awhile, they begin to feel, 'Gee, maybe somebody who knows more than me ought to make the decision.' That's why we call it Decision 2000. We want them to make the decision because it's their right and responsibility.

"In the electoral business, knowledge is everything." How to reach: Ohio Roundtable, (440) 349-3393; Decision 2000, www.decision2000.org

Daniel G. Jacobs (djacobs@sbnnet.com) is senior editor of SBN.