Increasing Voter Participation

Voter participation is a social work issue.

voting booths at a California primary

The NASW Code of Ethics standard 6.02: Public Participation states: Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.

Standard 6.04: Social and Political Action states: Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

Social workers can use the following resources to further education themselves on this important issue.

NASW Webinar Series

Social Workers as Social & Political Activists

webinar icon

These webinars are available on-demand at our Social Work Online CE Institute. Learners have the option to view them for free or to earn CE credits for a nominal fee.

Voter Participation and Voter Engagement: Millennials

Learn about the challenges of motivating young eligible voters to participate in the voting process for local, state, and federal elections. Historically, young people — especially those of color — tend to vote at a lower percentage than their older counterpoints. The webinar provides guidance and information about current barriers that that impede voter participation within this population.

The instructor is Shaneice Simmons, Associate Director of Civic Engagement at Rock the Vote.

Challenges for Voting Rights in America

This webinar discusses the state of voting rights in the United States. It touches on the historical context of gaining access to the ballot by African Americans and women. It also looks at the threat to voting rights for Hispanics, college students, and African Americans for the 2018 mid-term elections and the 2020 Presidential election.

The instructor is Hilary O. Shelton, Director to the NAACP's Washington Bureau, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.

Recognizing and Eliminating Barriers to Voter Registration and Participation

This webinar covers the historic and current barriers that low-income people, ethnic minorities, senior citizens, current and formally incarcerated men and women and college students have faced when trying to exercise their right to vote. The presenters will discuss their respective efforts to eliminate these barriers both through legal actions, mobilization of concerned voter rights advocates, and lobbying to members of congress, and political leaders in states where barriers to voting participation has been identified.

The instructors are Hilary O. Shelton, Director to the NAACP's Washington Bureau / Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy; and Jennifer Bellamy, Legislative Counsel at American Civil Liberties Union.

Mobilizing Voters

National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day

Every year, millions of Americans find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register. 

National Voter Registration Day was created to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to vote.

Learn more about National Voter Registration Day

Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote logo

Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people. Rock the uses pop culture, music, art, and technology to engage young people in politics and build collective power.

Rock the Vote has registered and turned out millions of young voters, and successfully defended voting rights and increased access to democracy. They also raise awareness and campaign for issues that impact the lives of young people, including the 2020 Census.

Learn more at

Young Invicibles

Young Invincibles logo

Young Invincibles amplifies the voices of young adults by expanding opportunities to participate in the political process, to advocate for the issues they care about, and to exercise their right to vote.

Learn more at


hashtag Turnout18 with a photo of young people with raised fists

Turn Out 2018 was a voter registration and mobilization program by the NAACP that reached out to voters in targeted states.

The NAACP is committed to raising awareness for political, educational, social and economic equality for communities of color in the electoral and legislative process.

Get NAACP resources for voters

Protecting Voting Rights

Brennan Center for Justice

Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law

The Brennan Center understands that election security is vital to ensuring the integrity of our democracy. They're teaming up with election officials across the country to help plan for shielding the vote from hacks, breakdowns and erroneous voter purges. They also are keeping an eye on several significant voting rights lawsuits around the country.

Learn more about election security

American Civil Liberties Union

ACLU logo

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. The ACLU works to protect and expand Americansʼ freedom to vote.

Learn about the ACLU's voting rights activities

U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

U.S. Election Assistance Commission

EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission that serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems.

Visit to learn more

Stay Informed, Take Action

See current legislation and key bills in Congress, and find out how legislators voted on bills of interest to social workers.

Why Voting Matters

Learn about the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign.

Read the article