Wednesday, October 8, 2014

November 4, 2014 is Election Day: Get Out the Vote!

The 2014 Midterm elections on November 4 are just one month away! Are you registered to vote? You can still register to vote in 25 states. What is your plan-- are you voting early or voting on election day? Are you encouraging your friends, neighbors, and members of your church to vote? If you are outside of the state in which you are registered to vote, make sure to request an absentee ballot in time (this is different for every state). For those who aren’t eligible to vote, use your voice to encourage other people to vote! Voting is both one of our fundamental rights as citizens and is a vital way we speak to the values of the kingdom of God in the political realm.

Click here to take a pledge to vote today.
As a member of a congregation, how is your congregation getting out the vote? You might assume churches can’t be involved in elections because of their non-partisan 501(c)(3) status, but there are many ways that you can. Here are some do’s and don’ts of congregation and clergy involvement in political action.

Do’s: [1]
  • Educate community and congregation members about issues important to you and your community.
  • Support church and community members on Election Day by providing rides, preparing to-go dinners for voters, or offering childcare for parents.
  • Incorporate voting into your Sunday worship service or host a voter informational session after your worship service.
  • Protect the right to vote at polling places. Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to report any violations you observe or hear about on Election Day.[2] 
  • Host a Bible Study on living into the roles of both Christian and Citizen.
  • Churches may not endorse specific candidates for office.
  • Churches may not contribute to political campaigns.
Why should Christians vote?

Photo credit: United Church of Christ
Presbyterians have long expressed the importance of Christian participation in public life, and by extension the democratic process. The Confession of 1967 laid out the reasons the body of Christ should be involved in the reconciliation of society, saying, “In each time and place there are particular problems and crises through which God calls the church to act.” [3] By voting, we choose the leaders who then act for the reconciliation of society to which we are called.

The 200th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted a policy statement called “God Alone is Lord of the Conscience” that affirms the importance of religious community participation in public life. “According to the Reformed tradition…faith demands engagement in the secular order and involvement in the political realm.” [4]

Midterm elections are an especially crucial time to get out the vote. Americans with the most extreme political views on both sides tend to vote in midterm elections. We must exercise our rights and speak with our voices of faith to who we want to be as a nation this election season.

Other Resources:

Check out The United Church of Christ’s “Our Faith, Our Vote” resource.

Visit the Interfaith Alliance’s Election year Resource Center.

Don't forget to pledge to vote today.

May we leverage our collective voices of faith to promote the common good in our nation and around the world. We’ll see you at the polls!

[1] “Do’s and Don’ts” are compiled from resources provided by the United Church of Christ “Our Faith, Our Vote:” and NETWORK Nuns on the Bus “I am a Voter” campaign: Please note: the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness cannot provide legal advice on these matters. Direct all questions to qualified legal counsel.

[2] In “Lift Every Voice: Democracy, Voting Rights, and Electoral Reform” published by ACSWP with ACREC in 2008, the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) voiced concern for obstacles to voter participation and affirmed voting early, easing absentee ballot restrictions, and making election day a national holiday as ways to insure “equality and fairness in the process.”

[4]  “God Alone is Lord of the Conscience” Approved by the 200th General Assembly (1988) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)