By Chris McKinnon

BOSTON (CBS) – Midterm election turnout is typically low. Our last midterm, in 2014, was the lowest turnout in decades at around 36-percent. To increase voter participation companies are encouraging employees to cast a ballot and some are even giving them the time to do it.

“We are completely closing all of our storefronts on Election Day to send a message to our customers and to the general public that nothing is more important than voting in this election,” explained Patagonia Store Manager Maya Spencer. The sign on the front door of the Newbury Street location says it all “When the polls open, we close.”

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Patagonia has joined more than 300 other companies in the “Time to Vote” initiative.

“We don’t anyone to have to choose between coming to work and going to the polls,” explained Spencer.

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But, not all companies involved in this effort will be shut for the day. Levi’s is giving employees two-to-five hours of paid time off to vote. At Dick’s Sporting Goods managers have been asked to be flexible with scheduling. And to get people to the polls, Lyft will be giving out discounted rides to hundreds of thousands of people on Election Day.

“I think it’s great,” said Patagonia Sales Associate, Matt Poutsiaka. He appreciates the paid day off to exercise his right to vote. “Now that companies, like Patagonia, are doing this it will help the turnout, which I think is super important. We’re lucky to be able to vote, a lot of people can’t,” he told WBZ-TV.

In recent history we have to go back to 1966 to hit a record high of 49-percent voter turnout in a midterm. That was right in the middle of the Vietnam War.

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