Some area businesses give workers time off to vote

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Last election, Burton employee Kim Smith had a hard time finding time to vote.

"I had to use my lunch break to vote," Smith said.

This year, she was able to sleep in, beat the long lines and went in late to work after voting.

"Being an hourly employee, voting means I would have had to wake up early or use my lunch break or make up the hours at the end of the day," Smith said.

This year, Burton gave all their employees a paid half day so they could go vote. It included 500 employees here in Vermont and more than 100 others around the county.

"This is a bipartisan effort," said Donna Carpenter, the co-CEO at Burton.

Carpenter says the time off won't be taken from employees' personal PTO. They just want their employees to vote and not worry about missing work.

"Especially for hourly employees work can be a real barrier and I think businesses have a responsibility to remove those barriers," Carpenter said.

Burton wasn't alone. Other businesses like the Patagonia store in downtown Burlington closed for the day so their employees could vote. And restaurant Honey Road closed so their employees could go to the polls.

"We want them to focus on this one thing that only happens every couple years," said Cara Tobin, the owner of Honey Road.

Tobin says she's making a statement by closing up shop.

"We want people to be able to do what they need to do to exercise their right," Tobin said. "I don't care who you vote for, just vote."

Back at her desk at Burton, Smith got back to work after she got her vote in.

"I'm still here early enough in the day to get all my work done," she said.