ELCA Young Adults support civic engagement at the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in February in Houston, Texas. Participants include (from left to right) Savannah Jorgensen, Brooke Helfers, Erin Brown, Autumn Byars, Tomo Duke, Naomi Mbise, Frances Dobbs, Kayla Zopfi, Quentin Bernhard, William Milner.

On Feb. 29, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced the creation of a state elections security task force in light of the Commonwealth’s pivotal role in the 2024 presidential election.

“We applaud the governor for organizing leaders to address threats and support overwhelmed or inexperienced county elections officials,” LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale said. “However, as people who are called to love our neighbors, we do not have to wait for task force recommendations to step up.”

Pennsylvania is facing a deficit of experienced election directors. Elections office staff have far fewer years of experience than in previous years, and there is a greater risk of errors, including those that have the potential to create voting difficulties and even disenfranchise voters. Participation, effective poll worker training and guidance, and responsible service in community polling places and offices are all crucial for a secure and healthy democratic process this year.

As Lutherans, we recognize the gifts from God that are government, grace, and neighbor. Because we are entrusted with these gifts, we are called to act in faith with a shared commitment to the common good. We can live this out through our advocacy. We can also live this out in our public life through civic engagement and actions such as voting in the hope of being part of a more just world.

“We encourage anyone of good will, but especially our eligible teens and young adults, to get trained and serve as official poll workers on Election Day,” DePasquale said. In Pennsylvania, high school students as young as 17 can be trained and serve as elections workers and get paid. Learn more about becoming a poll worker in Pennsylvania.

Congregations are also encouraged to contact their county elections office to see if additional polling sites are needed in their areas. “Insufficient or hard-to-access polling sites can lead to long lines, increased frustration and suppressed participation,” DePasquale said. “Offering our facilities for this purpose is can be a big service to our communities.”

Training and serving as a nonpartisan poll monitor “is another way to help head off problems and offer a calming presence,” DePasquale said. “You’re not just looking for trouble, you’re looking to help resolve problems by reporting them quickly as an independent party. That can help take the heat out of a situation and ensure that people’s rights are protected.” Learn more about becoming a nonpartisan volunteer poll monitor through Common Cause Pennsylvania.

LAMPa will be offering resources and training to support faithful civic engagement throughout this year, including organizing a network of election support volunteers. If you are interested in being involved, please contact us at LAMPa@lutheranadvocacypa.org.

The ELCA Social Message “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy” provides teaching on our call to serve our neighbor through government and robust civic engagement, in response to the Gospel and to matters of pressing public concern. You can also join a public listening session on the draft ELCA Social Statement on Civic Life and Faith.

Other ELCA resources for elections and civic engagement:

Primary elections in Pennsylvania are Tuesday, April 23. You can make your voice heard by voting, whether in person or by mail-in or absentee ballot. Tuesday, April 23, is also the last day for County Boards of Election to receive completed mail-in and civilian absentee ballots. All ballots must be received by 8 p.m. to be counted. If you have any questions about voting and upcoming elections, you can call 1.877.VOTESPA (1.877.868.3772), or visit the Department of State website. Find contact information for your county election officials here.

The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, of which LAMPa is a member, has information on voter registration, engagement, and education on their website. They have made resources available here, including the webinar “2024 Voter Engagement and Education Initiative.”

The webinar features information on resources and support your organization can be provided by partnering with the Housing Alliance, who can engage in voter engagement and education, remaining nonpartisan as a 501(c)3 organization, and strategies and tips to educate and engage clients and the community on upcoming elections.

In addition to offering opportunities to serve as a nonpartisan election protection volunteer, Common Cause provides a voter hotline. Anyone who encounters problems while voting can call at the phone numbers below.

  • English language hotline: 866-687-8683
  • Spanish language hotline: 888-839-8682
  • Arabic language hotline: 844-925-5287
  • Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and Tagalog language hotline: 888-274-8683

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