Alister Martin, MD, MPP and Marin Darsie, MD
As the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated longstanding healthcare inequalities that disproportionately affect communities of color and low socioeconomic status, many of us in the medical community are left wondering what we can do. Disparities in Wisconsin are especially sobering. Though Black Wisconsinites make up just 6% of the population, they account for 25% of COVID-19 deaths. The events of the past few months have shined a spotlight on health inequity, creating a pivotal moment for improving our healthcare system.
We want to provide those of you who are interested in a concrete action step: help your patients vote in a safe and healthy manner this November.
Dr. Alister Martin, an EM physician at Mass General Hospital and a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School, leads an organization called VotER that partners with healthcare providers to help patients register to vote. He started the project as a response to what we all see each and every day we care for patients – the healthcare inequities that stem from a democratic process where 51 million citizens aren’t registered to vote. VotER wants to ensure that patients, particularly those most left behind by the healthcare system, are empowered to fix it by inviting their voices into the democratic process.
VotER recently created Healthy Democracy Kits: badge-backers and lanyards with a QR code that patients can scan to register to vote or request an absentee ballot on their phones. It takes them 90 seconds or less while you go on to see the next patient. Voting from home is the safest way to participate in the November elections — this platform makes it easy for you to help your patients get ready to do so.
In the past few weeks, over 5,000 health care providers, including doctors, nurses, and social workers, have ordered their free kits. This effort will be featured in August during national Civic Health Month, a nonpartisan collaboration between healthcare organizations, voter registration organizations, and providers aimed at making the connection between civic engagement and healthcare. Join a rapidly growing number of health care providers across the country who are helping their patients vote safely by ordering your free kit today!
- VotER’s Healthy Democracy Kit is free. Order yours here: http://vot-er.org/kit.
- Share this message with colleagues in your network or hospital/department who would be interested. Group orders are welcomed!
- Get involved in VotER’s work in other ways, like digitally engaging with patients about safe voting. Feel free to reach out to VotER directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Darsie is a WACEP member practicing emergency medicine and neurocritical care at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.