The business community is aiming to register more private-sector employees to vote and educate them through their employers about the importance of the Nov. 4 elections.
"We've had great success over the last decade, but not the kind of success that we want," and the business community needs to "emphasize even more the need for employers to be involved in communicating, educating, motivating, and registering to vote their employees," said Greg Casey, president of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee.
About 43 million private-sector employees in the 2012 election weren't registered to vote, Casey, whose advocacy group's members include a majority of Fortune 100 companies, said at a press conference that included executives from business trade associations.
While overall voter participation in the Nov. 4 election will be lower than in the 2012 presidential election year, control of the Senate is at stake and all House seats are on the ballot along with most governorships and state legislative seats.
"Any of these races could be decided by a few hundred votes, so strong turnout for the business community could make the difference between a candidate who understands our concerns and a candidate who's attuned to other voters' interests," said David French, the senior vice president of government relations for the National Retail Federation.
Business leaders are angry at both parties about inaction in Congress, where power is divided between a Republican-led House and a Democratic-controlled Senate.
The Senate should take up a House-passed patent overhaul bill, French said.
And the House should act on an online sales tax bill, called the Marketplace Fairness Act, that the Senate passed last year, he said.
While House lawmakers are "willing to tackle this issue," but "they're afraid of small groups" with a strong anti-tax stance "who are particularly loud," French said.
"This intensity of public skepticism about D.C.'s ability to solve the country's problems is probably more intense than I can ever remember," said Ned Monroe, the senior vice president of external relations for the National Association of Manufacturers.
"The public breaking gridlock begins with voter registration, and we hope that we'll be part of that catalyst," he said.
A top priority for business community is to educate employees about the early-voting process that most states offer as a convenience for workers too busy to vote during working hours on the national Election Day, a Tuesday.
"We're always telling our members, Election Day is the last day to vote," said Lisa Goeas, the vice president of political affairs and grassroots at the National Federation of Independent Business.