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Empower Voters

Every voice needs to be heard! Use our resources to get more people voting in your community.

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Calling all Social Workers!

Students, faculty, and organizations alike have an important role to play in engaging the people around you to vote.

Key Resources
Our Vision

Social workers understand that voting is an important indicator of community health and well-being and include voter engagement as part of their professional practice.

About the Campaign

The goal of the Voter Empowerment Campaign is for all social workers to include nonpartisan voter registration, education and outreach as part of their professional responsibilities and practice, regardless of setting.

The Campaign urges faculty and schools of social work to include voter education in their curriculum and to give students the opportunity to gain skills and confidence by applying the concepts at their field placements.  The Campaign hopes that students will influence their supervisors and organizations to expand activities that promote voting among their workers and clients.

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The Campaign strongly encourages schools of social work, and the profession as a whole, to embed nonpartisan voter registration, education and outreach into their service delivery, including in classrooms and field placements. Studies show that social workers don’t feel they have the information or the training to engage in nonpartisan voter engagement activities.  Furthermore, practitioners and organizations are often reluctant to be seen as “political,” when, in fact, nonpartisan voter empowerment is part of the empowerment model embraced by social workers.  The people and communities we serve need to be engaged politically to make sure their voices are heard in the policy arena.  

Voter engagement provides students of all methods, from micro to macro, with the opportunity to practice foundation skills, including critical thinking, use of ethical judgment, and effective use of supervision (competency 1), education and assessment of the ways that political inclusion/exclusion can promote/oppress power in their field placement (competency 2), engage, intervene, and evaluate their practice (competencies 6, 8, 9), and most importantly, consider ways to use voter engagement and other forms of policy practice to effect change (competency 5).

Specific training includes:

  1. The importance of the practice of voting as an indicator of individual and community health and its connection to empowerment;
  2. The relevance of voting to social work, including voting as a human right and the profession’s history in voter engagement;
  3. The importance of nonpartisan voter engagement as different from partisan political activity; and
  4. Methods of incorporating nonpartisan voter registration, education and outreach into field settings.

The Campaign supports schools and students who adopt voting empowerment activities anywhere on a continuum with resources and technical support:

  1. Adding a voting empowerment unit or assignment to a policy or community course as an individual faculty member;  
  2. Including voting empowerment activities in the expectations/learning contracts of students in field placement to demonstrate their policy practice competency;
  3. Embedding voting empowerment activities and assignments as part of social work practice across their curricula to demonstrate its centrality to social work practice; and/or
  4. Ensuring that all students receive training and experience in voter empowerment. The Humphreys Institute will provide the resources, evaluation tools and technical assistance to any school wishing to add this to their curriculum. 

The Voter Empowerment Campaign and its members are making resources, including training slides, available on this website.

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The Importance of Voting to Social Work Practice


There is an important relationship between individual and community well-being and the practice of voting.  Voting is an essential responsibility of citizenship and is pivotal to the health of our democracy. When people vote, there are benefits to themselves and their communities, including higher levels of civic participation, stronger connections within communities and better outcomes for the individual voters themselves, including improved health, social connections, mental health and overall well-being. The groups most underrepresented among voters include young people, people of color and low-income populations—groups to which social workers often have direct access.

Unfortunately, the consequences of giving up political power are great.  Elected officials pay attention to voters and may disregard the needs of communities with low voter turnout.  A decrease in voting by one group also increases the political power of those who are participating. Despite social work’s Code of Ethics which calls for the empowerment of clients, political power is often an overlooked indicator of self-actualization and community health. 

KEY RESOURCES

Getting Started

Faculty Guide

A step by step guide with resources for faculty who want to add voter education to their curricula.

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Voter Engagement Training Powerpoint

Sample training slides for faculty and/or organizations on importance of voting to social work practice and community empowerment.

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Voting is Social Work Fact Sheet

A useful summary of why voting is an important part of community health and social justice work.

Download



Top Picks for Classroom and Training

A Dream Undone

NY Times Magazing, Jim Rutenberg, the magazine’s chief political correspondent, details the importance of the Voting Rights Act and the calculated efforts to limit its power and who turns out to vote.

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New York Times OP-DOC Video on the efforts to limit the Voting Rights Act

The 2016 presidential election is the first election since the passage of the ACT without the full protection of the law.

Download
Give Us the Ballot, Ari Berman

This engrossing book details the history and importance of the Voting Rights Act and the modern efforts to rollback those changes.

Download
CRISP Symposium Audio Recording

The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy’s (CRISP) Inaugural Policy & Politics Symposium March 2, 2016 with Ari Berman, Mit Joyner, Jason Green, Tanya Rhodes Smith and Khaliyl Lane.

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Ari Berman's Talk at UCONN

Ari Berman speaks at the University of Connecticut on his book Give Us the Ballot.

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There’s more! View our…

About Us

We collaborate with our partners to help students and organizations empower voters in their communities!

Collaborating Organizations

Want to collaborate? Email us at info@votingissocialwork.org.

Contact Us

info@votingissocialwork.org

(860) 570-9158

Organizations

Want to partner with us? We’d love to join forces! Please send us an email telling us about your organization.

Students & Faculty

Have a question, concern, or encouragement? We’d love to hear about it! Simply shoot us an email with your comments.