During the past year, the counseling profession has made history with the passage of Medicare reimbursement for counselors, 30 governors having signed the interstate Counseling Compact into law, and Title IV-A funding reaching its highest level in history to support the needs of school counselors. However, we have also witnessed the proposal, adoption and passage of legislative and regulatory measures that may make it difficult to serve your clients’ needs. All that counselors experience professionally begins and ends with a branch of government. Therefore, it is vital to the success of the profession that counselors protect and promote it by staying active in their advocacy efforts. It is also important for counselors to go to the ballot box and vote for the candidates who will support the needs of the profession, their counseling clients and their communities.
Voting rights are an important aspect of our society. They provide counselors the opportunity to participate in the political process and have a say in the decisions that affect how they can practice. Professional counselors, like other groups of citizens, have a stake in the policies and decisions that impact their profession, their clients and the communities they call home. By voting in the 2024 elections, you will not only help shape the direction of your profession but also ensure that your voice and the voices of thousands of people who need your support are heard.
Before voting in the 2024 elections, counselors must use their knowledge and expertise to inform candidates about what is important to the profession. For example, you may want to know a candidate’s stance on supporting mental health care, increasing access to telehealth or ensuring that school and career counselors have the resources they need to perform their jobs effectively. Taking an active role now by preparing for the 2024 elections can make all the difference in how the profession flourishes in the future.
To prepare you, here is a snapshot of what to expect in the 2024 elections:
- Gubernatorial: Elections for governor will be held in 11 states and two territories: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.
- Congressional: Experts predict that 12 congressional districts currently held by Democrats will be toss-ups, as will 10 districts held by Republicans. Note that Republicans currently hold a small majority of 222 to 212 in the House of Representatives, with 218 seats needed for either party to be in the majority. In the Senate, Democrats have a narrow majority of 51 to 49, including three senators who identify as Independents.
- Presidential: So far, at least eight Republicans are vying for the right to represent their party in running against current President Joe Biden. These candidates are North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, businessperson Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former President Donald Trump.
In addition, there are likely to be several seats open in your local and state government offices. As the saying goes, “All politics is local.” So please pay attention to every candidate on the ballot. You can visit ballotpedia.org to find information on candidates, attend candidate forums and review candidates’ websites. You can also visit govtrack.us to learn how your current member of Congress has voted on issues important to you.
Nov. 5, 2024, is still a year away, but just as the candidates for office are already campaigning, you should prepare now to vote for the candidate whose policies will truly be in your profession’s best interest. It is important that you educate yourself and talk with your colleagues about the importance of the elections. Your vote is your voice, and it matters for you, your clients, your community and the counseling profession.
Brian D. Banks is the chief government affairs and public policy officer for the American Counseling Association. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: The printed version of this article left off North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum as a presidential candidate. The PDF of the November issue has been updated to include the most recent list of presidential candidates as of Nov. 1.
Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.