Boise State social workers discuss their ethical duties in relation to the election

Many individuals are thinking about the upcoming presidential election during this time of year. Though it may not be obvious, social workers are directly involved with the results of the election. 

According to Jillian Kelley, a senior social work major, social workers have to abide by a code of ethics. This code of ethics is used in social worker’s lives and careers in order to help them make ethical decisions.

“One of these codes of ethics is social justice and advocacy,” Kelley said. “We are expected to advocate for everyone, but especially for disenfranchised groups, such as minorities.” 

Voting affects the groups of people social workers advocate for. It has the power to give or take away basic needs and rights, which is a significant matter for social workers and their clients, according to Kelley. 

Social workers directly work with the people who are impacted by policies that voters decide on, so it’s important to remain educated on what might be decided in an election, particularly in such a major one as a presidential election. 

“If one presidential candidate denounces white supremacy and the other one doesn’t, we have to vote ethically for the people we work for,” Kelley said. “We vote with the greater good in mind.” 

For Kelley, voting comes down to what candidate upholds the rights of every American with particular attention to oppressed groups. It’s difficult to justify voting for policies or removal of policies that negatively impact social worker’s clients. 

Megan Dardis-Kunz, a Masters of Social Work online field coordinator in the school of social work, confirms that nonpartisan voter participation is highly significant to social work’s mission and professional directive. 

“Social workers are in a unique position to understand and advocate for the needs of our communities based on the work we do,” Dardis-Kunz wrote in an email.  

[Photo of two women entering a polling place]
Photo by Spencer Platt | Tribune News Service

For Dardis-Kunz, the election is providing an opportunity to use voting as a way for voices to be heard. 

“Individuals who vote report higher levels of health and mental well-being, stronger social relationships, better employment outcomes and a greater sense of individual efficacy,” Dardis-Kunz wrote. “Communities that vote in high numbers receive more attention, responses and resources from their elected officials.” 

Encouraging individuals to vote can be as simple as initiating a conversation about voting and politics, according to Dardis-Kunz. Helping people understand their impact as voters is a way that social workers pursue change in their communities. 

“Voting supports the political power of clients and communities and it powers the fight for racial, social and economic justice. Elected officials create policies that impact almost all areas of our lives,” Dardis-Kunz wrote. 

For Natalie Mercik, a sophomore social work major, social workers use the power of their vote to advocate for others, regardless of their personal beliefs or affiliations. 

Mercik believes the election is different this year than past elections. 

“In some aspects, it feels like it’s between those who agree with human rights and those who don’t,” Mercik said. 

According to Mercik, voting is valuable to society because of its democracy. Without the voice of a nation, the nation cannot be a democracy. 

“In the U.S., the people have a voice through voting,” Mercik said. “Show your voice and speak up.”

For more information on voting and social work visit and follow the Boise State University School of Social Work Facebook page for regular voting related posts up through the election.

“Your vote is your voice!” Dardis-Kunz wrote. 

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