All social workers understand the important connection between civic participation and individual and community health, and include voter engagement as part of their professional practice.
Why Voting is Social Work
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 that are less likely to vote. 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.
Pilot Voter Education Campaign: The Campaign urges faculty and schools of social work to include voter education in their curriculum and to give student 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.
National Campaign: The Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP), Influencing Social Policy (ISP) and the Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work are leading a national campaign to mobilize social workers to register, educate, and get voters to the polls so their voices will be included in deciding the direction of the country. The Voting is Social Work Website launched in May. Multiple resources are available on the site for voter engagement.