Jennifer Thew, RN
According to a 2018 survey by the Pew Center for Research, the United States lags behind most developed countries in voter turnout rates. The 2016 election saw a voter turnout of 55.7%, which earned the U.S. a ranking of 26 out of the 32 countries participating in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
With midterm elections just a few months away, there is still time to encourage eligible voters to get to their polling places in November. One organization encouraging nurses to do this is the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which on August 7, launched Nursing Voices, Nursing Votes, a nonpartisan initiative designed to encourage, educate, and engage nursing deans, faculty, and students as they amplify their voices during election season.
"Elections are a cornerstone of our national framework and offer important opportunities for engagement and policy change," Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN, AACN president and chief executive officer, says in a news release. "We are excited to introduce the Nursing Voices, Nursing Votes initiative so nursing schools within AACN's membership have the framework and tools available to be active members within our electoral process."
VOTING IS VITAL
Nursing Voices, Nursing Votes is a multifaceted initiative that features social media use to inform AACN members of primary dates and registration deadlines. There is also a countdown to the 2018 midterm elections.
Additionally, the program offers AACN members the chance to join the conversation #NursingVoicesNursingVotes, enter and track voter registration statistics among member schools on the AACN website, and access additional state-by-state voting resources.
"Participating in the electoral process is essential," says Ann Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, FNAP, FAAN, chair of the AACN board of directors. "State and federal elections are foundational to policy change. Academic nursing leaders must embrace the role they play in advocating for the profession by educating students on the need to vote and impact healthcare policy."
CHALLENGES STUDENTS FACE
For nursing students, there are challenges when it comes to participating in the election process. For example, students may go to school at a different location than their voting address and may be unfamiliar with voter registration procedures. By collaborating with deans, faculty, and students, Nursing Voices, Nursing Votes reinforces voter education and provides resources to AACN members as they participate in local, state, and federal elections.
AACN encourages deans and faculty to designate time during orientations or policy classes for students to register to vote and join the Nursing Voices, Nursing Votes conversation either via Twitter or online.
With an estimated 4 million nurses in the U.S., the program's aim is to give power to nurses' voices by getting them out to vote.