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10 civic engagement challenges for the new year

With two elections happening, 2024 is going to be busy. Join us in incorporating these easy civic practices into your plans BEFORE the calendar starts filling up.

1) Make sure your registration is up to date. 

Did you change your name last year? Or buy a new home? We want to say congratulations…and also remind you to update your voter registration. Even if you didn’t change your address or name recently, it’s still good to double-check your status. Ohio annually purges “inactive” voters from the state voter rolls, and sometimes they even purge active voters by accident. We agree–it’s not fair!  Voting and registering to vote shouldn't be a mysterious process where you don't know your status. That’s why we support efforts like The Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) amendment, spearheaded by the Ohio NACCP, Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Organizing Collaborative and others. But in the meantime, it’s better to be safe than sorry, friends.

You can check your registration status here

2) Check to see if your news sources are reliable.

The new year is a great time for a makeover (of your daily news, that is). Over the past two presidential election cycles, there has been an eruption of misinformation being spread through our media channels with the primary goal of disrupting our democratic process. It has left voters and potential voters confused and frustrated, leading to decreased engagement and trust in our political system. We can do our part in the fight against misinformation by always checking to see if the media we consume and share is credible. Here is a helpful guide from NPR on spotting misinformation. And if you need recommendations for credible news outlets, we recommend local nonprofit news sites like The Land and Signal Cleveland.

3) Follow some of our partner organizations so you can get the latest policy updates.

Don’t have time to keep track of every legislation going through the Ohio legislature? Neither do we, and we’re a voting organization! Fortunately, a lot of orgs that do advocacy work also provide policy updates and/or legislation trackers via their communication channels. Equality Ohio (who focuses on multiple aspects of LGBTQ equality in our state) has a section of their website dedicated to legislation news. Policy Matters Ohio is another good policy news resource, and Honesty for Ohio Education has a legislation tracker for education-themed bills. 

This is one of the ways we keep track of any legislative decisions that might impact our communities.

4) Consider becoming a poll worker for one of the elections this year.

There will be two opportunities for you to be a poll worker this year: the March Primary Election and the November General Election. At the micro level, poll workers get paid to set up and monitor voting machines, organize paperwork, help voters with any questions, hand out voting materials, oversee day-of registration, and generally ensure the smooth functioning of the voting process. And at the macro level? Well, they kind of protect democracy. No wonder they get their own holiday!

Visit to find election worker positions in your area.

5) Connect with your government officials.

Is there something going on in your community that you think needs to be fixed/changed?  It might be time to contact your representatives. There are lots of ways to communicate with your reps, such as signing up for public comment, calling them on the phone, tagging them on social media, and inviting them to a community event you’re organizing. And don’t think you only have to reach out when you have a “complaint” --- if you think a program or piece of legislation is working, it’s good for our leaders to know!

6) Register people to vote.

If you’ve never done it before, don’t worry—there are a lot of free trainings out there. For example, Nonprofit VOTE has regular trainings on how to register people while remaining nonpartisan. You can sign up for your newsletter to see when they’ll have another training, or you can visit their website to see recordings of past trainings. Before you start registering people and you’re thinking about locations, make sure it is a location with a lot of foot traffic. And make sure you have permission to be there. A lot of places (like colleges and universities) are cool with it as long as you ask with plenty of notice. If you don’t want to register people by yourself, you can join Cleveland VOTES (and our partner orgs) when we host our annual National Voter Registration Day Week of Action in September. Check back in August for more details. 

7) Sign the Citizens Not Politicians petition.

Right now in Ohio, politicians and lobbyists manipulate voting districts to protect their interests and guarantee their re-election. As a result, incumbents running for reelection rarely lose. In other words, we let politicians choose their voters.

The Citizens Not Politicians Amendment would ban lobbyists and politicians from the process and instead empower voters to choose their politicians. Join Cleveland VOTES and other Ohioans to restore power to where it belongs: with citizens, not politicians. You can endorse the petition here. If you want to know where you can sign the petition in person and/or are interested in collecting signatures yourself, follow Citizens Not Politicians on social media or sign up for their newsletter to learn about upcoming training events and volunteer opportunities. 

8) Join the movement to make election day a paid holiday. 

Cleveland VOTES supports efforts to make voting more equitable for all. Therefore, we are fans of initiatives to make election day a national holiday. If you’re also on board, you can look into nationwide movements like Make Time to Vote or contact your reps (local, state and national) and tell them you think everyone should have a fair opportunity to vote on election day and not face repercussions from their employers. Most Americans already support a voting national holiday, but we need to put extra pressure on the government to make it actually happen. 

9) Follow Cleveland Documenters.

Cleveland VOTES is a big fan of Cleveland Documenters, a network of newsrooms and community organizations committed to participatory civic media. Using notes, live-tweet threads and multimedia reports, CD holds our local government accountable and keeps you informed about the decisions our leaders are making. You can follow these updates on their website or social media

10) Sign up for the Cleveland VOTES newsletter.

Cleveland VOTES is very proud of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Democracy Journal. If you are not already signed up for it, we hope you will today. Subscribers get to see the latest voter and election info, CV events, legislation updates, CV partner resources, and more. You can sign up by going to our homepage, scrolling to the bottom, and writing in your email address. 

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