Encouraging voter engagement
St. Mark’s, Asheville, is a prime example for congregations wishing to support the ELCA’s Voter Engagement Initiative, ELCAvotes! The congregation’s Christian Action Team partnered with The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County which provided materials, submitted voter registrations, and emailed voting reminders to those who took the Pledge to Vote. Team preparation included production of event handouts which included sample ballots and early voting information detailing dates and locations. Printing/production costs were covered by a Thrivent Action Team grant. Making themselves available in the common areas of the building after Sunday worship, the team (pictured) helped currently-registered voters verify their registration record as up-to-date—including correct address—and registered eligible voters using official registration forms. Team members hand-delivered the completed forms to the local Board of Elections. Also available was non-partisan information on candidates running for office, links to websites with additional information, and there was a sign-up sheet for people willing to make their Pledge to Vote. To round out efforts, the team also provided a transportation sign-up sheet for individuals needing assistance in getting to the polls. Overall the event garnered 49 individual Pledges to Vote, including eight individuals aided in the actual process of registering to vote.
The synod’s Social Justice & Advocacy Ministry Team provides ELCAVotes! Voter Education Resources to congregational leaders through conference deans and direct mail*. Bible studies, the ELCA’s “Civic Education and Voter Education Guide,” and support information for the Voting Rights Advancement Act are available on the Team’s webpage.
*Information about ELCAVotes! is available from conference deans, and will be sent by mail directly to primary contacts and council chairs for each congregation in the synod.