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 Cynthia Sierra, Senior Director of Public Policy, Public Affairs, and Development at Manet Community Health Center, located in Quincy, North Quincy, and Hull, MA
National Voter Registration Day at Manet Community Health Center
Manet Community Health Center’s efforts on September 25 were made possible with a combined “force” of volunteers from the League of Women Voters in Hingham including Kate Boland, President, Julie Strehle, Mary Kenyon, Liza O’Rielly, Chris Wilk, Chartis Tebbitts, Mary O’Donnell, and Nancy Darr of The League of Women Voters in Weymouth and Sandra Koonz and Jeanne Giagrande, of the former League of Women Voters Braintree, combined with 2 walk-in MassVote volunteers, Karen Bonatti and Laura Gabel Hartman, Manet volunteer , David Griffin and Manet staffer. Manet’s observance of National Voter Registration Day successfully and simultaneously canvassed 5 practices sites, from 9:30-3:00, inside and out, and outreached to surrounding community venues.
In total, the effort helped registered on-site 55 persons (of all ages) to vote in this one day. This was in addition to the 11 registration forms filled out earlier in the month at the Manet North Quincy practice, for a total of 66 this election season. Briefly, the day reached and helped to register: college students, service professionals, teachers, community advocates, allied health professionals, physicians, executive managers, November travelers, parents, Bingo players, health and social service consumers, and coffee drinkers!
Upwards of 245 individuals were engaged in conversation about voting or had their questions answered such as Where do I vote? I recently moved—do I need to re-register? I have not voted since the 2000 election, what do I do? What are the ballot questions? What is the deadline to register? Am eligible to vote whereas I have a criminal record or I just became a citizen 3 months ago? I will not be home to vote is there something I can do? Can my child at college vote?, etc.
Moreover, 56 persons signed the Community Health VOTE’s Pledge to Vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
Thirty-five (35) Voter Registration forms and 15 absentee ballots were taken home for completion.
We learned that civic education matters—and conversations such as these are important whereas for many that we met this process and the access to relevant information may not be routine. We also learned that having venues and events that are accessible to individuals where they frequent, come, work and spend time is key. There was a general sense of enthusiasm and appreciation for the process and some visible ease and relief for those we engaged that this was a portable process encouraged by National Voter Registration Day that brought the opportunity to register and ask questions right to them as they were managing a busy work day, appointments, neighborhood stops and errands. Further, we could affirm that on the South Shore, materials and persons that speak diverse languages was key, and materials were both completed on-site and distributed in Chinese and Vietnamese. Moreover, there is a request for registration forms in Portuguese.
Special appreciation the League of Women Voters of Hingham and Weymouth and Mass Vote! YOU inspired the day. In fact, the League of Women Voters continue to make this work possible and today 6 more registrations to vote were completed here at Manet in North Quincy!