Creating a Culture of Voting in Direct and Generalist Practice
Training Field Instructors
Keywords:voter engagement, field education, empowerment, political social work, political engagement
Social workers have an ethical responsibility to be engaged in policy change, regardless of their practice area or specialization. Voter engagement and the importance of political power through voting is often overlooked in the literature as a valid and important component of social work practice. Creating a culture of nonpartisan voter engagement in practice settings can help empower individuals who have been historically and intentionally disenfranchised from our electoral system. Training for field instructors, faculty, and field staff is a key aspect of voter engagement in social work education. Unfortunately, social work education is unlikely to include substantive content on voter engagement or its connection to social work practice and impact. This article presents one component of a model for integrating voter engagement into social work education: the provision of training for field instructors on nonpartisan voter engagement at two universities over two years. Evaluation findings suggest that pre-existing levels of political efficacy affect the reaction of field instructors to nonpartisan voter engagement training. Furthermore, findings indicate that field instructors who receive voter engagement training are more likely to serve as resources for their students and to consider voter engagement as part of their own practice. We offer evidence on the important role field educators can play in the success of the larger national effort to integrate voter engagement in social work education. Increasing awareness of what social workers, nonprofit, and public agencies are allowed--or even required--to do is a critical first step.
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. (n.d.). Student voting and the Higher Education Act: How colleges can ensure compliance and increase student voting access. Retrieved from https://www.aacrao.org/events-training/event/2011/11/09/default-calendar/student-voting-and-the-higher-education-act--how-colleges-can-ensure-compliance-and-increase-student-voting-access
American National Election Studies. (2012). User’s guide and codebook for the ANES 2012 time series study. Retrieved from https://electionstudies.org/project/2012-time-series-study/
Avery, J. M. (2015). Does who votes matter? Income bias in voter turnout and economic inequality in the American states from 1980-2010. Political Behavior, 37, 955-976. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-015-9302-z
Bartels, L. M. (2008). Unequal democracy: The political economy of the new Gilded Age. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Bedolla, L. G., & Michelson, M. R. (2012). Mobilizing inclusion: Transforming the electorate through get-out-the-vote campaigns. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.12987/yale/9780300166781.001.0001
Blakely, T. A., Kennedy, B. P., & Ichiro, K. (2001). Socioeconomic inequality in voting participation and self-related health. American Journal of Public Health, 91(1), 99-104. doi: https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.91.1.99
Bogard, C., Sheinheit, I., & Clarke, R. (2008). Information they can trust: Increasing youth voter turnout at the university. Political Science and Politics, 41(3), 541-546. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096508080724
Brennan Center for Justice. (2018). The state of voting 2018. Retrieved from https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/state-voting-2018
Center for Information and Research on Civic Life and Engagement [CIRCLE]. (2010). Latest research. Retrieved from http://civicyouth.org/
Council on Social Work Education. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards. Retrieved from https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_FINAL.pdf.aspx
Davis, J. (2010). Voting as empowerment practice. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 13, 243-257. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15487768.2010.523352
Deal, K. H., Hopkins, K., Fisher, F., & Hartin, J. (2007). Field practicum experiences of macro-oriented graduate students. Administration in Social Work, 31(4), 41-58.
Democracy Works. (2019). TurboVote. Retrieved from https://turbovote.org/
Frasure, L. A., & Williams, L. F. (2009). Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in political participation and civic engagement. In B. T. Dill & R. E. Zambrana (Eds.), Emerging intersections (pp. 203-226). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Frint, H. (2018, May 26). Young residents cite variety of reasons for not voting. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from https://www.bgdailynews.com/news/young-residents-cite-variety-of-reasons-for-not-voting/article_956b7e5c-aab6-5239-b8b5-721e930a2123.html
Griffin, J. D., & Newman, B. (2005). Are voters better represented? Journal of Politics, 67(4), 1207-1227. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2508.2005.00357.x
Gutierrez, L. (1999). Working with women of color: An empowerment perspective. Social Work, 35(2), 149-153.
Hardina, D. (2013). Interpersonal social work skills for community practice. NY: Springer.
Hill, K., Donaldson, L., Fogel, S., Erickson, C., & Ferguson, S. (2017). Social work licensure and macro social work education: An exploratory study of impacts and influences. Advances in Social Work, 18(2), 522-542.
Hill, K., Lane, S., Powers, J., & Smith, T. (2019). From the North Star State to the Empire State. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 46 (March), 91-112.
Hylton, M. (2015). Civic engagement and civic literacy among social work students: Where do we stand? Journal of Policy Practice, 14, 292-307.
Hylton, M., Rhodes Smith, T., Powers, J., Ostrander, J., & Lane, S. R. (2018). The power of three: Infusing voter engagement in lower level BSW courses. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 23(1), 213-229. doi: https://doi.org/10.18084/1084-718.104.22.168
Klar, M., & Kasser, T. (2009). Some benefits of being an activist: Measuring activism and its role in psychological well-being, Political Psychology, 30(5), 755-777.
Lane, S. R., & Pritzker, S. (2018). Political social work: Using power to create social change. NY: Springer. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-68588-5
Lane, S., Humphreys, N., Graham, E., Matthews, N., & Moriarity, J. (2007). Voter registration: Empowering clients through agency-based voter registration. Journal of Policy Practice, 6(4), 79-93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1300/J508v06n04_06
LeRoux, K., & Krawczyk, K. (2012). Can nonprofit organizations increase voter turnout? Findings from an agency-based voter mobilization experiment. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(2), 272-292.
López, G., & Flores., A. (2016). Dislike of candidates or campaign issues was most common reason for not voting in 2016. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/01/dislike-of-candidates-or-campaign-issues-was-most-common-reason-for-not-voting-in-2016/
Mahaffey, M., & Hanks, J. W. (1993). Practical politics: Social work and political responsibility. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers. (Original work published 1982)
Martin, P. S. (2003). Voting’s rewards: Voter turnout, attentive publics, and Congressional allocation of federal money. American Journal of Political Science, 47(1), 110-127. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-5907.00008
Martin, P. S., & Claibourn, M. P. (2013). Citizen participation and congressional responsiveness: New evidence that participation matters. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 38(1), 59-81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/lsq.12003
McCabe, H., Hylton, M., Kooreman, H., Mellinger, M., & Day, A. (2017). Civic literacy and social work education: Results from a multi-site study. Journal of Policy Practice, 16(1), 81-94. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15588742.2015.1137852
McElwee, S. (2015). Why voting matters: LARGE disparities in turnout benefit the donor class. Retrieved from https://www.demos.org/publication/why-voting-matters-large-disparities-turnout-benefit-donor-class
Miller, W., & Shanks, M. (1996). The new American voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mizrahi, T., & Dodd, S. J. (2013). MSW students' perspectives on social work goals and social activism before and after completing graduate education. Journal of Social Work Education, 49(4), 550-600. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2013.812504
National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Read the code of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English
National Conference of State Legislators. (2017). Same day voter registration. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/same-day-registration.aspx
National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign [NSWVMC]. (n.d.). Voting is social work. Retrieved from https://votingissocialwork.org/
National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 52 U.S.C. §§ 20501–20511 (1995).
Niemi, R. G., Craig, S. C., & Mattei, F. (1991). Measuring internal political efficacy in the 1988 National Election Study. American Political Science Review, 85(4), 1407-1413. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/1963953
Nonprofit VOTE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nonprofitvote.org/
Nonprofit Vote. (2013). Can nonprofits increase voting among their clients, constituents, and staff? An evaluation of the track the vote program. Retrieved from http://www.nonprofitvote.org/documents/2013/08/can-nonprofits-increase-voting-executive-summary.pdy
Nonprofit VOTE. (2017). Voter education. Retrieved from https://www.nonprofitvote.org/nonprofits-voting-elections-online/voter-education/
Ostrander, J. (2016). To participate or not to participate, that is the question: A critical phenomenological study of clinical social workers and their political participation (Doctoral dissertation). Digital Commons. 1296. Retrieved from https://opencommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/1296/
Perez, M. (2017). Election integrity: A pro-voter agenda. NY: New York University.
Piven, F. F. (2011). Who's afraid of Francis Fox Piven? NY: The New Press.
Piven, F. F., & Cloward, R. (1988). Why Americans don’t vote. NY: Pantheon Books.
Piven, F. F., & Cloward, R. A. (2000). Why Americans still don’t vote: And why politicians want it that way. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Plutzer, E. (2002). Becoming a habitual voter: Inertia, resources, and growth in young adulthood. American Political Science Review, 96(1), 41-56.
Postle, K., & Beresford, P. (2007). Capacity building and the reconception of political participation: A role for social care workers? British Journal of Social Work, 37(1), 143-158. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch330
Pritzker, S., & Burwell, C. (2016). Promoting election-related policy practice among social work students. Journal of Social Work Education, 4, 434-447.
Pritzker, S., & Lane, S. R. (2014). Field note—Integrating policy and political content in BSW and MSW field placements. Journal of Social Work Education, 50(4), 730-739. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2014.947905
Pritzker, S., Springer, M., & McBride, A. (2015). Learning to vote: Informing political participation among college students. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 8(1), 69-79.
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, P.L. No. 105-244 (1998).
Ritter, J. (2008). A national study predicting licensed social workers’ level of political participation. Social Work, 53(4), 347-357. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/53.4.347
Rocha, C., Poe, B., & Thomas, V. (2010). Political activities of social workers: Addressing perceived barriers to political participation. Social Work, 55(4), 317-325. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/55.4.317
Rolfe, M. (2012). Voter turnout: A social theory of political participation. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139058513
Rome, S. H., & Hoechstetter, S. (2010). Social work and civic engagement: The political participation of professional social workers. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 37(3), 107-129.
Rome, S. H., Hoechstetter, S., & Wolf-Branigin, M. (2010). Pushing the envelope: Empowering clients for political action. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3-4), 201-219. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/15588742.2010.487236
Sanders, L. M. (2001, August-September). The psychological benefits of political participation. Annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. San Francisco, CA. Retrieved from http://www.nonprofitvote.org/documents/2010/11/the-psychological-benefits-of-political-participation.pdf
Sandler, A. K. (2017). Structural factors and voting decisions by recipients of means-tested government assistance programs, who are enrolled in community colleges (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Open Commons@UConn. (1462). Retrieved from https://opencommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/1462/
The Sentencing Project. (2016). Felony disenfranchisement. Retrieved from http://www.sentencingproject.org/issues/felony-disenfranchisement/
University of Connecticut. (n.d.). Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work. Retrieved from https://ssw.uconn.edu/politicalinstitute/
Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L., Brady, H. E., & Nie, N. H. (1993). Citizen activity: Who participates? What do they say? American Political Science Review, 87(2), 303-318. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/2939042
Vote.org. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.vote.org/
Voting is Social Work. (n.d.). Voting is social work. Retrieved from https://votingissocialwork.org/
Wayne, J., Bogo, M., & Raskin, M. (2010). Field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(3), 327-339.
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).