This blog post is the first of a series sharing voter registration and civic engagement tips and ideas from health center advocates. If your health center is offering voter registration and you would like to write a guest blog post, email your post to CHCVote@nachc.org.
Guest Blog Post: W. Scott Parker, Collaboration & Development Director and Ryan White Part B Coordinator for Western North Carolina Community Health Services, located in Asheville, North Carolina, describes how his health center has utilized online communications to share voter engagement messaging.
Utilizing Online Communications for Voter Engagement
Western N.C. Community Health Services is utilizing social media for voter engagement this year. Incorporating our website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and Constant Contact email Newsletter, we hope to saturate our community with voter engagement messages – all tied into our health center.
Our website is our most comprehensive opportunity to educate and engage potential voters, whether they are currently registered or not. On the home page (pictured) we prominently showcase the “register to vote” link. Additionally on the home page we have a separate link to register to vote alongside our social media links. Lastly there is a menu button which links visitors to our “Vote” page. On the vote page, we link individuals to a site which allows them to print out and mail a voter registration application. Another link sends individuals to our local county voting resources as 80% of our website visitors live in our county. There is also a link to “Voter Resources for Nonprofits” to help link any other nonprofits who may see our website, and also a link to the Fair Elections Network, which offers a plethora of information on voter suppression and voter engagement. I also have included on the webpage an essay on voting, which I found on-line. The essay extols the virtues of voter participation in a non-partisan way.
Finally, the page gives local county voters an address where they can go register to vote, and other options where they may register to vote across the county. I will be updating this page to include any other resources that might become prioritized throughout this process. The page is very fluid and can be changed in a few minutes time.
Our Facebook page is used to deliver engaging information about voting. This page sometimes links to editorials about voting or tying in the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Sometimes we simply remind people to register. The goal of the Facebook resource is to remind people to register every week between now and the deadline for registering, and also to provide articles about the issues CHC’s are concerned about…and somehow tying that into voting. Our Facebook page does not take an official position on anything (we are non-partisan), but we do link often to articles that could be seen as thought provoking; we just share information that is readily available and non-partisan. So, Facebook can be quickly and easily updated and should be updated at least daily. It can complement your website by offering very static information about voter engagement and links to articles which might motivate people to want to register AND vote.
Our Twitter account is updated daily and usually compliments our Facebook page. We weave in voter engagement articles and links among the health related information. Twitter is a great tool to remind people to register to vote prior to the election and will be a great tool on election day to remind people to vote throughout the day.
We use Constant Contact for our monthly email newsletter. Our July edition will begin our voter engagement series. Email newsletters are a great way to target a specific audience – usually those who have either signed up to receive the newsletter, or have expressed an interest in continuing to receive it. Email newsletters can include links to other sites to educate individuals, but can also contain content to educate. Since our email newsletter goes out to our “friends” in the community, and many are individuals who work at other non-profits, we will have the opportunity to engage their organization in voter registration and engagement issues. We will link to the same website on our home page which educates non-profits about voter registration. Email newsletters compliment and reiterate some of the things already covered on the website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, but a steady, informative, and energetic mix of social media resources can keep your audience engaged AND motivated.
–W. Scott Parker