This blog post is part 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 by Vanessa Adjei, summer intern at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester, MA
Staff Savvy: The Voter Registration Initiative at the Edward M. Kennedy CHC
The voter registration initiative at our Lincoln Street and Tacoma Street lunchrooms has helped many staff to understand the importance of their role as voters. Our voter registration engagement has brought much attention to the upcoming election among our staff. It is week five of our voter registration effort and so far, we have registered 30 staff.
Our Kennedy CHC non-partisan Voter Registration Initiative is focused on engaging our own staff in the voting process. When a staff member is interested in becoming a registered voter in their city or town, a Youth Development Peer Leader and I provide them with the registration form and non-partisan educational materials. Questions regarding change of residency have been a big inquiry during the process so we are truly thankful for the training we received from David LeBoeuf, Executive Director of the Initiative for Engaged Citizenship (Worcester, MA) prior to beginning the voter registration drive.
Our Voter-Registration & Education Table at both sites has made it easy for staff to complete their registration. From 11:30am-1:30pm, two volunteers are made available to alleviate any doubts or hesitation that staff may have about the registration process. “When in doubt, fill it out!” is a good and basic rule of thumb we have found useful, regardless of what they are not sure of. These hours have made our outreach effective and overall a vital bridge in the registration process. If a staff is a resident of Worcester, we have designated one volunteer each Friday to hand deliver their completed registration forms to Worcester’s City Hall.
The number one reason why people do not vote is because they have never been asked to. Not only are we asking our staff whether or not they are registered voters, but we have given them the opportunity to address any concerns they may have and any myths they may have heard about voting.
I am thankful that we were able to register as many voters as we could during the voter registration project. We were able to “kick off” the campaign with an all-staff email and an included an excerpt about the initiative in our staff newsletter. Community Health Vote 2012 continues to be an ongoing effort that has encouraged our own staff members to become leaders within our voter engagement activity.