Schools of social work can be effective catalysts for increasing voter turnout and political power in the communities and clients served by the profession.
Nationally, social workers touch 12 million people a day. They work with marginalized populations in all types of organizations, including state agencies, schools, health centers and nonprofit organizations.
Social workers, students, agencies and communities benefit from training. Voter education should include why voting matters to social work’s goals, community well-being, a just society and even their own self-interest. Content on the struggle for the franchise, laws such as felony disenfranchisement that are racist in their intent and impact, the negative consequences of low voter turnout on marginalized communities, and current efforts to roll back rights and access challenge the dominant narratives that voting doesn’t matter and/or is outside the scope and mission of social service delivery. In census years, anyone who works with or lives in underserved communities must understand the importance of the census to representation and services, address fears and myths and know how to encourage 100% participation.
Supporting people and communities to vote and be counted is part of empowerment practice, which values communities’ own power and voice to effect change. In addition, particularly in these hyper-partisan times, agency staff and leaders need to know the clear difference between partisan politics and allowable nonpartisan activities in nonprofit organizations and government agencies, including when they may be mandated by law to provide voter registration opportunities by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.
The Campaign supports student and field-driven changes in practice.
Below are ideas and resources to get your school started!
Voting is Social Work Fact Sheet
Voting IS social work! This fact sheet describes social work's role in voter engagement and turnout.
Social Work Education’s Role in Voter Turnout Fact Sheet
Share our fact sheet with schools of social work.
Agencies Role in Voter Turnout Fact Sheet
Download the following fact sheet to integrate voting into social work agencies.
Nonprofit Vote’s 501(c)(3) Permissible Election Activities Checklist
Know the difference between partisan activities and nonpartisan voter engagement. Nonpartisan voter activities by social workers, nonprofit organizations and most government agencies is legal, ethical and professional.
Ideas/Best Practices to Integrate Voter Engagement into Agency Operations
A short one-page document detailing ideas and best practices for voter engagement in agencies.
Voter Engagement Worksheet for Organizations
This worksheet is a helpful small group exercise that can be used in field instructor seminars, engaging field educators in thinking through with others the steps that they might take, and the potential barriers they may face in introducing voter mobilization activities into their workplace.
The New Social Worker
This is an article by Terry Mizrahi and Mimi Abramovitz which provides an overview of history and impetus behind the Voting is Social Work Campaign. Most helpful as an introduction for field educators interested in learning about the campaign. It can also be accessed at: https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/voting-is-social-work-voter-empowerment-national-social-work-voter-mobilization-campaign/
Field Education Slides: Voting is Social Work
11-slide power point presentation that can be used and adapted as needed to introduce students and/or field instructors to the Campaign and to social work role in promoting civic engagement. Useful for student orientation and seminars for field instruction.
Letter to Field Instructors: Voter Mobilization
2-page letter (template) that can be customized for distribution to all Field Instructors informing them of the campaign and the role of field education in promoting civic engagement and voter mobilization skills. An informational flyer about the Campaign is attached.
Example Practice Activities for Voter Engagement Field Education
This document provides a helpful checklist demonstrating the alignment of 19 possible field-based civic engagement/voter mobilization activities for students with the 2015 EPAS (9) Competencies.
Field Educator Article, Fall 2019
Voting is Social Work: What Field Educators Need to Know: A three-page article about the campaign and the importance for field educators of voter mobilization for agencies and students.
Twenty Ways to Make Voting Matter
These are 20 brief paragraphs describing students’ experience -- in their own words -- of work in the area of voter mobilization in a range of different field placement settings, both micro and macro.
Checklist and Resources for a Voter Registration Drive
This 2-page document provides information about setting up a voter registration drive and sample “answers” to common questions. While it references voter registration information for the state of Connecticut, It can be easily adapted for use in other states.
Know Your Elected Officials Worksheet
Most people don't know who represents them at all levels of government. This simple worksheet can be used in classrooms or workshops to build awareness of the three levels of government, how to contact elected officials and find local resources.