OUR MISSION

PatientVoting.com is a non-partisan effort to heighten awareness of patients' rights and increase voter turnout. We organize public information and provide free materials so more registered voters can cast their ballots if they are unexpectedly hospitalized in the days and weeks prior to the election.  

OUR 2020 GOALS

  1. Increase knowledge of healthcare providers and the public that voting while hospitalized is both possible and a right of patients

  2. Increase the number of emergency absentee ballots in states as compared to the 2016 election

  3. Create a network with Patient Voting representatives in healthcare facilities in all 50 states

  4. Work with other patient advocacy and voting groups

HOW DOES IT WORK

Big Picture

What is an emergency absentee ballot?

An emergency absentee ballot is available in most states, but few people have heard of it.

Most states have provisions for regular absentee ballots, which must be requested by an application and must be returned between two weeks and one day prior to the election. However, in order to fill out an absentee ballot, one must be able to anticipate that they will be unable to make it to the polls on Election Day.

When patients are unexpectedly hospitalized, they likely did not make arrangements to vote by regular absentee ballot. Emergency absentee ballots are used when a registered voter realizes that they will be unable to make it to the polls too late to apply for regular absentee ballots.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "Requirements to qualify for an emergency ballot vary, but the most common reason that states permit a voter to use this option is due to a medical emergency such as unforeseen illness, confinement to a medical facility, disabilities or accidents resulting in injury."

Our Own Candidates

Who is our audience?

Here at Patient Voting, we focus on three main groups:

1. Patients hospitalized in the weeks and days prior to the election, who are anticipated to be still hospitalized on Election Day,

2. People who were discharged from the hospital in the days prior to the election, whose acute illness may still prevent them from being able to travel to the polls on election day, and

3. Nursing home residents

Below we focus on the process for hospitalized patients.

Step-by-Step

What does this look like?

In most states, the process is something like this:

  1. Patient fills out an emergency ballot application

  2. Emergency ballot application must be delivered to the election office (By whom? Great question! By family, friends, and sometimes the Patient Voting staff.) usually at least one day prior to the election

  3. Emergency ballot application is approved by the election office

  4. The emergency absentee ballot is either picked up from the election office (By whom? Same answer.) or it is dropped off or delivered by election staff

  5. The ballot is filled out by the patient. Sometimes it must be witnessed by someone else, sometimes election staff must witness it. In some states, it must be accompanied by a letter by the attending physician 

  6. The ballot is delivered back to the election office before the deadline on Election Day

Screening

Who is eligible?

Patients who are admitted to the hospital in the weeks and days prior to the election, who are likely to be still hospitalized on Election Day, are good candidates for Patient Voting.

To be eligible to vote by emergency absentee ballot, patients must be registered voters. Step one is to verify the patients status as a registered voter using websites like https://www.vote.org/ or various state-specific websites (available on each state's information page if applicable). 

There are various programs to increase voter registration amongst emergency room patients, including https://vot-er.org/

Consent

Are patients or families interested?

Just like any other medical procedure, it is important to ask patients and their family members if they would be interested in Patient Voting.

Previously, our team members have approached admitted patients and their family members either in the emergency department or on in-patient floors to ask if they would be interested in receiving information about voting while hospitalized. We respect "no" as answer: being admitted to the hospital with an acute illness or condition may be overwhelming and leave little time to think of other things. 

Information

How can we empower patients and their family members?

If the answer is "yes" (and we hope it is!), our team provides the patient and their family information for this site including state-specific instructions on voting processes.

We also aim to provide printed copies of emergency absentee ballot applications if we are able, as it is often challenging for patients or family members to have access to a printer while in the hospital. 

Coordination

How can we make the process easier?

Successful voting by emergency absentee ballot requires several trips to and from the election office in order to deliver the application, pick up the ballot, then deliver the ballot. In states where this service is not provided by election staff, we hope to help out patients and families by coordinating the delivery of the above to the election offices. 

Contact patientvoting@gmail.com for more info

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