Dr. Kelly Wong, Citizen Physician in Practice Awardee, speaks about PatientVoting.com and the role that civic engagement and advocacy plays in healthcare:
There are approximately 150,000 registered voters who are unable to get to the polls on election day because they are unexpectedly hospitalized on, or just prior to, election day. The emergency department already serves as a critical interface between the underserved community and the hospital, providing basic access to anyone who seeks it. Our patients are more frequently hospitalized and therefore more likely to be hospitalized during the election. While more subtle than voter ID requirements and other versions of institutionalized voter suppression, frequent hospitalizations are a structural barrier to voting that we can eliminate with the Patient Voting Project.
The majority of states make allowances for a process called emergency absentee voting. The Patient Voting Project is a non-partisan effort to heighten awareness of patients' voting rights and increase overall voter turnout. We organize public information — often hidden deep in state government websites — and provide free materials like step-by-step instructions and applications so more registered voters can cast their ballots without leaving their hospital bed.
Empowering and enabling our patients’ right to vote is an extension of justice in medicine. Our goal for 2020 is to form a network of civically-driven health care providers through all fifty states who will help patients in their surrounding area. We also aim to identify states where voting from the hospital is especially difficult so we can work with the Board of Elections in order to enact change.
Find out more about Dr. Wong and her initiative at:
Twitter: @patientvoting; @kellywongmd