PHYSICIANS, HOSPITALS, AND VOTER REGISTRATION ORGANIZATIONS ALLY TO LAUNCH CIVIC HEALTH MONTH IN AUGUST
Traditional voter registration efforts have been curtailed due to COVID-19 and experts say the health care sector can help to fill the void.
July 1, 2020
BOSTON, MA – COVID-19 has taken America by storm: it has sent the country into a whirlwind of confusion, social-distancing, and fear, and it has required incredible sacrifices from frontline healthcare workers. It has also created a barrier to voting for millions of Americans and has made voting a public health issue. Already, we have seen up to a 70% drop in election-cycle voter registration rates as DMVs remain closed and in-person registration events are impeded by public health guidance. Now more than ever before, we need to give every American a voice in shaping health policy and allow them to do so in a safe and healthy way.
To overcome these challenges, over 50 health care and voter registration organizations, along with thousands of frontline healthcare providers, have come together as a nonpartisan coalition to launch Civic Health Month in August. Aimed at strengthening the connection between civic engagement and health care, Civic Health Month will showcase how these partners—including VotER , Nonprofit VOTE , the American Academy of Pediatrics , and University of Pennsylvania Hospital System among many others—are building a healthier and more inclusive American democracy. Throughout August, partners will recommend targeted actions for patients, health care providers, and communities to increase voter registration, equip individuals to vote at home where possible, and amplify the civic voice in health care.
“Civic Health Month is about trying to bring resources to patients, both medical and non-medical, so that we can help our communities be healthier,” said Dr. Elizabeth Datner, Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia.
“COVID-19 does not differentiate between Republicans and Democrats, and we have to come together to defend our elections against this disease. As the worst public health crisis in a century, we need to ensure that every American can vote in a safe and healthy way,” said Trey Grayson, former Republican Secretary of State for Kentucky and Chair for the Secure Elections Project.
“Being a healthcare provider today and ignoring civic engagement and the broader implications of policy has, in recent years, become a lot like piloting a plane and ignoring the fact we are flying with the cabin door wide open. Our most vulnerable patients, often those from black and brown communities, are about to be jettisoned out into open sky. It is just as wrong to ignore the impact policy has on our world caring for patients as it would be to continue flying that plane and carrying on as if nothing was wrong. We must empower our patients to help shape policy and it starts by helping them register to vote,” said Dr. Alister Martin, VotER Founder and Physician.
“COVID-19 has caused tremendous financial strain on hospitals and health systems on the front lines in the fight against this pandemic. In order for the health sector to recover and continue to treat the communities and patients we serve effectively, we need broad-based advocacy and patients and providers coming together to help repair what COVID-19 broke, one vote at a time,” said Dr. Ali Raja, Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“The coronavirus pandemic has strained the health sector nationwide and now is the time to elevate the advocacy efforts of hospitals, health care providers, and patients leading up to the 2020 elections. Civic Health Month is about these groups coming together with their votes, and with their voices as advocates for better health in the wake of this pandemic,” said Cindy Samuelson, Vice President of the Kansas Hospital Association.
Here are a few ways to get involved now:
Join over 10,000 healthcare providers by ordering VotER’s free Healthy Democracy Kit : This lanyard and badge backer display a QR code and text-in number that connect patients to our digital platform for voter registration and mail-in ballot requests.
Encourage participation in National Voter Registration Day on September 22:
Organizations can sign up to be official partners at www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org and receive free voter registration posters, stickers, training, and support.
Help patients get ready to vote and spread the word:
Director of Civic Health Month