Let’s Get Active! Let’s Bring About Change! Let’s Get Out The VOTE!

As a community leader for over 27 years, and a former candidate for the Kentucky State Senate and State House of Representative, I have learned a great deal about public service, advocacy for change, education, the power of democracy, and legislation.

As Advocacy Chair for UNA-USA National Council, I have the opportunity to work alongside the UNA-USA Advocacy Committee Members on legislation and issues. We are getting ready to release our new initiative: Get Out The Vote! This campaign’s goal is to encourage citizens to harness the power of the vote in their communities.

The Importance of Voting
To figure out when is the last day you can register to vote in your state for the upcoming General Election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, visit the voter Participation Center site. Additionally, it is important to note that several states are purging voter names for lack of voting in the past few years or a change of address. In order to make sure you are still registered correctly, check with your local Board of Elections or Secretary of State to see if you are still registered to vote come November 6.

It is up to you to do your part to encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to register to vote. Registration is available online or via mail. Remember, you are allowed to hand out voter registration cards, but you are not permitted to take someone’s voter registration card with their personal information. Instead, merely have the person be responsible for sending in their own registration card! Never handle a registration card that is filled out as this creates authenticity issues.

If you are registered to vote, then make it your proud duty to GO VOTE. With your voice being heard, you can bring about changes that effect the world. It makes a real difference about who is in office – on the local, state and federal levels. Did you know that if you do not vote, someone else who does vote is making the decisions for you?  It is important to understand that whoever sits in office can make laws that affect your everyday life.

Helpful Tips for Local Advocacy Efforts
While it may not be possible to know all the candidates, you still can and should attend candidate forums. Get ‘in the know’ by researching the candidates in your community, contact the campaign manager to ask when a candidate forum will be held for this office, or try to see if you can speak with the candidate at an organized event. You can even ask friends, neighbors, relatives, spouses, children or acquaintances to go with you to make it a fun and educational trip!

Another way to meet elected officials is by calling their local office to schedule an appointment for yourself or a small group of people – this is called an ‘in district’ meeting. Simply ask for 20-30 minutes to allow for greetings, introductions, exchange of cards, and a candid conversation. During this meeting you can allot 2-3 minutes for each topic or issue you want to discuss and then always try to follow up with a brief ‘Thank You’ card. Remember that you can always schedule an additional meeting if needed, but keep the meeting brief and cordial to be respectful of the candidate’s time.

When discussing your views and questions with a candidate, whether on the phone or in person, know that you can ‘agree to disagree’ while not being combative or raising your voice; it is best to respect a position of another person even if it differs from your stance. It is certainly welcomed to make your points and offer your ideas, but let the other party make their statements as well. Most importantly, always be courteous when presenting your arguments.

Are you interested in speaking with your candidate? Make calls to their offices NOW. The vote is coming!

Teena Halbig currently serves as Advocacy Chair for the UNA-USA National Council. Teena has served over 20 years in the medical field since she graduated from University of Louisville with a Bachelors of Science and Certificate in Medical Technology and later earned her MT (ASCP). Teena also served as UNA-USA Kentucky Division President for six years, was President of the League of Women Voters of Kentucky for three years, and she currently sits as AAUW of Kentucky Public Policy Liaison and AAUW Louisville Branch Public Policy Chair.

To learn more about Get Out The Vote initiative or UNA-USA’s advocacy objectives, contact Teena Halbig at teenahal@aol.com.