Women’s Equality Day

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Celebrate the 19th Amendment with More Than Just a Vote

Allison Karakis, Government Relations Manager, FHLBank Pittsburgh

The anniversary of the adoption of the 19th amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote, is coming up on Aug. 26. While the amendment was an important step in our nation’s history, we must remember that voting isn’t enough to ensure your voice is being heard.

As the mid-term election season heats up, you can be assured you will soon be seeing flashy media campaigns from celebrities with one simple message: “VOTE.” Candidates will spend large sums of money registering supporters to vote and helping voters complete absentee ballot applications. Your mailbox will be stuffed with voting reminders. News reports about party registration and predicted voter turnout will provide the backdrop for daily analysis about who will control the next Congress.

On Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018, reports of voter trends will dominate the airwaves, as election experts make all kinds of predictions about the outcomes that will be decided that day. But what happens after the election decisions are made? What are you doing on and after November 7th?

Was voting enough to assure your voice was heard?

Election Day marks the beginning of the congressional process, not the end. Immediately after the election, Congressional members are already hearing from groups seeking support for their particular issues. When was the last time you met with your member of Congress? Does he or she know you or your organization by name? Do congressional staffers call your organization to ask your expert opinion?

If all of this sounds impossible, it’s not! Members of Congress need your help. They want to know you and your organization. You are of particular importance to them because you live, work and are active in your community. Members are expected to be knowledgeable about their communities and numerous other issues, but they only have a few staffers to help them sift through mounds of information. You are an important resource to help them understand what’s going on and how they can assist.

Building a relationship with your member of Congress can begin with a simple call to his or her office requesting a meeting. You can also attend an event where the member will speak or attend a scheduled town hall. Building effective relationships takes time and effort, but the impact is well worth the investment.

Want to learn more? During the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania’s 2018 Homes Within Reach Conference, you can attend the “The Reality of Winning Housing Policy Changes: Can We Be More Effective?” session on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 9:45 a.m. I will be a panelist, and Joe Willard from People’s Emergency Center will be the moderator. We’ll be joined by two state legislative staffers.

So as we observe the 98th anniversary of the 19th amendment, what will you do to celebrate? Make sure your voter registration is up-to-date, then call your member of Congress to schedule a meeting.

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