September 2004

My Voice, My Vote Campaign Emphasizes Voter Education, Registration


09_04MyVoice

Thanks to the efforts of market-based organizations throughout Catholic Health Initiatives, new voters are registering in time for this fall's presidential election; established voters are learning more about candidates and issues; and excitement is spreading about exercising the American right to vote.

Catholic Health Initiatives' My Voice, My Vote campaign provides market-based organizations with tools that encourage voter education and participation in the democratic process. "The My Voice, My Vote effort is entirely voluntary, and we are thrilled with all of the activity we are seeing at our market-based organizations and national offices," said Marcia Desmond, director of public policy for Catholic Health Initiatives. Volunteers key to Memorial's registration success At Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tenn., registration efforts have already created more than 60 new voters. "We held a voter registration event in all of our 14 locations," said Howard Roddy, vice president of healthy community initiatives and advocacy for Memorial. "We had a group of volunteers specially trained to help employees and visitors fill out voter registration forms on the spot. The volunteers did a fantastic job and were really key to the success of the event." Because Memorial draws employees and patients from Georgia and Alabama as well as Tennessee, volunteers had registration forms for all three states on hand. "We collected 55 registrations for Tennessee alone," said Roddy. "We had no idea if that was an impressive number or not, but the state election commission was absolutely thrilled." As in many other states, voters in Tennessee must be registered at least 30 days prior to casting a vote. Memorial plans to hold another registration event in September to ensure that new registrants can participate in the November presidential election. The market-based organization has also added voter registration forms to its information packages for newly hired employees. An all-American team: ice cream and voter education At the Northern Kentucky office of Catholic Health Initiatives, 22 employees recently attended an ice cream social to learn more about voter registration and resources available through the My Voice, My Vote Web site. "We had registration forms available for the three states from which we draw employees - Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana - complete with pre-printed mailing labels," said Carol Keenan, director of human resources for Catholic Health Initiatives. "We also demonstrated the Web site, including the tools individual voters can use to help determine which candidates most closely match their own values and opinions." The Northern Kentucky office will also send out voter registration reminders in late September. Helping inpatients cast their votes Memorial's My Voice, My Vote committee is now considering ways to help inpatients exercise their right to vote during the November elections. "We are discussing ways to determine in advance which patients wish to vote and the best way to enable them vote from their beds," said Roddy. "Our state election commission volunteered to work with us to provide this service to our patients so they can contribute to the democratic process." Desmond said she is impressed by the initiative market-based organizations have taken to implement the My Voice, My Vote campaign. "The market-based organizations are going beyond the suggestions in the My Voice, My Vote Action Guide and coming up with great ideas of their own." Catholic Health Initiatives has scheduled conference calls during which market-based organization representatives can share their ideas and successes regarding My Voice, My Vote. For more information on the calls or any other aspect of My Voice, My Vote, contact Marcia Desmond at marciadesmond@catholichealth.net; Peg O'Keefe, director of communications for Catholic Health Initiatives at pegokeefe@catholichealth.net; or visit www.catholichealthinit.org and click on the My Voice, My Vote icon.