The Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social WorkVoting Is Social Work

Individuals and communities who vote are better off in important indicators of well-being. Voting is considered a social determinant of health and a basic human right. Voting builds political power, with multiple studies showing that elected officials direct more attention and resources to communities that vote in higher levels. Participation matters in a strong democracy, and when social workers and the communities we serve don’t vote that power is given to others.

Supporting people and communities to vote through nonpartisan voter registration, education, and outreach is a critical intervention on all levels of social work from the micro level effects of an individual voting, to the mezzo level of strengthening communities, to the macro level changes to policies and systems.

The Humphreys Institute believes voting is as important as other forms of empowerment. We train students, faculty, social workers, organizations, and communities on the importance of voting to our mission and impact and how to effectively integrate voter engagement into all social work practice, service delivery, and community culture.

In 2015, the Humphreys Institute launched a pilot voter education program at the Schools of Social Work at the University of Connecticut and the University of Nevada, Reno. The work of the program centers on the development and research of educational pathways that lead to the integration of voter engagement and education practice into curricula and field education. Through a human rights lens, students learn foundational civics, the importance of voting in all elections, and the connection between voting and policy decisions and social work outcomes. An important component of the model is the application in field agencies where students apply concepts and is supported through training designed for field supervisors and faculty.

Our goal is to transform social service delivery as well as community culture through the integration of voter engagement with social work practice. The Humphreys Institute provides training materials and consultation for schools that wish to add the Humphreys Institute voter education program to their curriculum.

The Humphreys Institute is proud to support the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign. This national voter empowerment campaign began in 2016 as a collaboration with the Humphreys Institute, Influencing Social Policy, and the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work, along with funding from the Fund for Social Policy Education and Practice. In 2018, and in collaboration with the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, there has been a national call to action within social work education and practice.

The Campaign seeks to:

  • Raise awareness of the importance of voting to social work practice and social policy;
  • Integrate voter engagement activities into class and field education for all micro and macro students;
  • Provide information about voter mobilization skills and strategies to field instructors, students and faculty for use in agencies and the classroom, and
  • Ensure that all the people served by social workers have access to the vote.

The Humphreys Institute is a co-founder of, a website that includes research, resources, and training related to voting and the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign.