Midterm elections have a direct impact on fundamental issues related to the quality of life for communities nationwide and nonprofits’ ability to pursue our charitable missions. These issues encompass everything from economic mobility to the availability of funding for community supported programs, to investments in civic infrastructure, and the staffing of public agencies. As Election Day nears, nonprofits should prepare to respond to barriers that may impede access to participation for voters in underserved communities.

Voter disenfranchisement impacts constituents in various ways, including variation in impact within groups. As a result, access and participation gaps along the lines of race, age, income, ability, and  education level distort our democracy and the policy debates that flow from it. There is a compilation of evidence that illustrates the myriad ways in which certain voting policies make participation disproportionately difficult for voters in underserved communities.

Constituents trust nonprofits to assist them in navigating complex systems to access essential services such as public benefits, healthcare enrollment, legal issues, food assistance, housing, and more. Nonprofit voter engagement is no different. Your nonprofit can leverage this trust to educate prospective voters about newly enacted policy changes and procedures and overcome pre-existing barriers that impede access to the ballot box.

Engaging voters in underserved communities is a first and requisite step toward advancing long-term civic participation. Not only does nonprofit voter engagement establish a viable pathway for constituents to educate decision makers, but it also helps to ensure policy solutions are immersed in and derive from the perspectives of communities who will be impacted. These democratic principles cannot be fully realized without high-impact practices that ensure equal access and participation for all eligible voters. In order to bring underrepresented voices to the table, nonprofits must first develop inclusive voter  engagement strategies to meet the unique needs and challenges of their stakeholders.

Use the following resources to ensure that your organization’s voter engagement strategy helps to build a more equitable electorate.

Read the full article about voter engagement strategies by Neisha McGee at Independent Sector.