Help Ensure Safe, Fair & Accessible Elections in Your Community
Voters head to the polls Nov. 8 for important state and federal elections. The more prepared and supported our elections systems are, the less likely it is that voters will be disenfranchised and the more confidence we can all have in the outcomes. Our faith communities can play a role in ensuring the electoral process runs smoothly and fairly.
With just one week to go, some Pennsylvania counties are still in need of help in preparing for Election Day. LAMPa volunteers have contacted almost every county in the state to learn what their needs are. Contact us here, to learn if there are needs in your area and to avoid overwhelming election offices.
“Election season is, unfortunately, a time when negative rhetoric is heightened, including that which belittles others and instigates fear. As Christians, we are called to foster and model civil dialogue, invite trust amid differences and lead healthy community conversations to discuss issues of the common good.” (ELCAVotes, pg.1)
ELCAVotes is an initiative developed in response to “Voting Rights to All Citizens,” a social policy resolution adopted by the
2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The resolution urges that “members, congregations, and synods of this church be encouraged to ‘promote public life worthy of the name’ by speaking out as an advocate and engaging in local efforts
such as voter registration and supporting legislation to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens.”
As division and mistrust mount ahead of November elections, congregations and individual disciples may find the resources offered through ELCAVotes to be helpful in shaping a faithful response. Here, you will find guidance for Bible study, civic engagement, voting rights, provisions for those experiencing homelessness, churches as polling places, clergy and congregational participation in the electoral process, and more.
LAMPa urges our network to offer assistance to county elections offices — whether offering to be trained as an official elections worker or by offering an accessible building as a polling site. Adequate numbers of effectively trained workers and safe polling sites reduce wait times and the likelihood of frustration and mistrust among voters. In addition, LAMPa encourages volunteers to be trained as nonpartisan poll monitors — serving outside polls to help direct voters who may have gone to the wrong site, to report any problems, and to ensure that those legally allowed to vote are able to do so. Nonpartisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and Common Cause of Pennsylvania may help you find an opportunity in your community.
In addition, you can help promote awareness of elections rules, procedures and important dates, as well as get answers to frequently asked questions by visiting the PA Department of State.
Local ministries and advocacy groups can play a monumental role in ensuring access for all people interested
in civic engagement and in guaranteeing that no voice is lost in our democratic process. Faith activists and churches engaged in the margins of society are often the best-positioned, and sometimes the only means, to expand voter outreach, for example, with people struggling with homelessness. Lutherans have long been involved in the fight to protect voting rights in the United States. In discussion and in actions of civic engagement, we can continue to promote policies that favor the inclusion of all.