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.
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:
The Campaign supports schools and students who adopt voting empowerment activities anywhere on a continuum with resources and technical support:
The Voter Empowerment Campaign and its members are making resources, including training slides, available on this website.
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.
The 2016 presidential election is the first election since the passage of the ACT without the full protection of the law.
We collaborate with our partners to help students and organizations empower voters in their communities!
Want to collaborate? Email us at email@example.com.
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