How Social Workers Can Use Their Position to Support Voter Mobilization
- Support Information Dissemination Efforts
- Assist with Preparation of Information Materials
- Participate in Small Group Discussions
- Join Door-to-door Campaigns
- Facilitate Access to Resources
The mission of social work is to address the issues faced by vulnerable individuals and communities to improve their quality of life, so mobilizing voters does not seem like a critical concern. The truth is, one of the bedrock principles of social work theory is the empowerment of individuals and groups. In spite of social, economic and physical restrictions, everyone should be part of political exercises especially on issues and policies that may impact one’s interests directly. For the social worker, voter mobilization is a way to encourage people to become involved in their community and in advocating for themselves.
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1. Support Information Dissemination Efforts
In the age of information, it becomes increasingly difficult to separate facts from fake news. Social workers who spend a lot of time interfacing with individuals and communities should take the time to explain key issues relating to health care, access to social safety nets and legislative issues that may have a direct impact on the services they receive. Explain the issues in a way that clients will understand and mobilize to take action.
2. Assist with Preparation of Information Materials
Communication is one of the key strengths of social work professionals. They understand the mindset of the communities they work with and usually have the language skills needed to interact with non-native English speakers. Social workers can help with the translation of information materials and voter forms as well as the one-on-one explanation of forms and pamphlets. To the extent that their job allows, social workers may assist clients to complete voter registration materials, vote-by-mail ballots and other official documents.
3. Participate in Small Group Discussions
As someone who is already involved in community events, the social worker is a natural fit as a resource person in small group discussions, either formal or informal. The social work professional can serve as a discussion leader, moderator or just be an observer in town hall meetings. These group meetings provide the ideal setting for explaining critical issues and encouraging the community to take a stand for the sake of their future.
4. Join Door-to-door Campaigns
Social workers are at the forefront of grassroots movements because this is the nature of their jobs. A substantial portion of their work hours is devoted to home visits, direct client interaction and person-to-person interviews. Utilize this experience to join door-to-door campaigns aimed at mobilizing voters to register, join the campaign and vote when the time comes. In marginalized communities that harbor mistrust for politicians and local leaders, social workers may be considered more sympathetic to local concerns.
5. Facilitate Access to Resources
A significant part of the social worker’s job involves ensuring that at-risk individuals and marginalized populations are given access to the help they need within the existing social structure. Those who are homeless and live in transitional housing may be disenfranchised due to lack of identification and a permanent address. Transportation to polling places may also be an issue for many who do not drive or have access to a vehicle. These are issues that the social worker can address with the help of advocacy groups.
According to Socialworkhelper.com, the nature of direct practice social work puts these professionals in a position to help in mobilizing voters to participate in the election process. However, it is important to consider any legal and ethical restrictions that may apply especially in the case of social workers employed by local, federal or quasi-governmental agencies. Take these boundaries into account when deciding how to help out with voter mobilization as a social worker.