The Michigan Nonprofit Association understands the power of voter engagement. It is a fundamental right and responsibility of all citizens. As nonprofits, we have a role in encouraging all eligible citizens to make sure they are registered to vote before the October 11, 2016 deadline, in order to be able to vote in the November general election.
Nonprofits have a responsibility to mobilize in a nonpartisan way to encourage voter engagement. So often nonprofits frame our work as giving voice to the voiceless. Supporting voter engagement is an essential part of our work, because it helps to empower the people and communities we serve. Voter engagement is a tool that helps nonprofits further their missions on behalf of the people we serve.
We must remember that voting is a fundamental right of all citizens in this country. It is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In 1869, the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing all male citizens of all races the right to vote. Yet, decades of physical and legal challenges at the polls and beyond denied African American men their constitutional right to vote. It wasn’t until 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, that they were able to fully exercise their rights. And we must remember that it wasn’t until 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified that women were granted the right to vote. As an African American woman, I am aware, grateful and humbled by the high historical price that has been paid for all Americans to have a voice.
We are often so focused on the day to day of running our organizations. We forget that voter engagement shines a powerful spotlight on nonprofits both during and after elections, helping to make us part of critical public policy discussions and allowing us to weigh in on our issues. Voting isn’t just good for your organization. It’s good for individuals, our communities, and the health of the people we proudly serve. Studies show that just the act of voting is associated with better health outcomes, cohesive communities, and more effective advocacy for key issues.
This has been a long campaign season. We are now just weeks away from the general election. Join us in engaging voters in the political process by:
- Be a partner for National Voter Registration Day
- Share Michigan election resources from the Secretary of State
- Host a voter registration drive for your staff or constituents
President & CEO
Michigan Nonprofit Association