Patients voting from their hospital bed at Lenox Hill Hospital via Patient Voting partner organization Northwell Health Voting. Shared with patient permission.
WHAT IS PATIENT VOTING?
Patient Voting a non-partisan organization aiming to increase voter turnout among registered voters who are unexpectedly hospitalized in the days and weeks prior to elections.
Patient Voting helps patients vote by using an Emergency Absentee Ballot. An Emergency Absentee Ballot is available in most states, but few people have heard of it.
Most people are familiar with regular absentee ballots, which are intended for people (members of the military, college students) who know ahead of time that they will not be able 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, but it is 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."
There are different deadlines and processes, depending on the state. Check out the individual state pages for more information on the Patient Voting process in your state.
HOW DOES PATIENT VOTING WORK?
Our Own Candidates
Who is our audience?
Here at Patient Voting, we focus on two 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
Below we focus on the process for hospitalized patients.
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 at Vote.org/ or various state-specific websites (available on each state's information page if applicable).
There are various programs to increase voter registration among emergency room patients, including https://vot-er.org/
Make sure to check if your state requires a Voter ID. HERE is our link to our digital cards for all 50 states. For Spanish click HERE. You can also get your Voter ID questions answered through this link: https://www.messenger.com/t/VoteRiders. If you are requesting a mail in ballot and your state requires you to send a copy of your voter ID but do not have access to a printer, you can send a picture to VoterID@voteriders.org and we will mail you two hard copies. For up-to-date information and help with voter ID you can also call/text VoteRiders: 844-338-8743 or visit voteriders.org.
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.
In some states (AL, AZ, CA, CO, DE, HI, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MI, NE, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WY), family members of hospitalized patients are also able to vote by Emergency Absentee Ballot.
Team members can 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.
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 on state-specific instructions on voting processes, links to this site, and contact information for in-hosptial staff who can assist them with obtaining and returning the application and ballot to the Board of Elections.
Check out What We Provide for free printable resources for patients.
How can we make the process easier?
In many states, 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. We encourage patients to their support system (family and friends) to serve as this authorized messenger. However, where appropriate, we can work with your health care system to identify who in your team can serve as authorized messengers.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
All of the info in one centralized location for patients, loved ones, and health care workers
The exact process for Emergency Absentee Ballots varies from state-to-state:
The Regular Absentee Voting deadlines are different,
The Emergency Absentee Ballot application deadlines are different,
Whether your application and ballot can be sent by via electronic, by mail, or in-person varies depending on where you live...
All of this info is scattered on 50 different state election websites (if you can even find it!) All of this information is located on http://patientvoting.com so it's easy for patients, their loved ones, and health care workers can find it.
A Patient Voting plan unique to your hospital
We can schedule a call with your dedicated team to learn more about your hospital and how this would work best. We can customize materials specific to your hospital's plan.
Free customized templates for voting materials featuring your hospital logo and branding
State-by-state information for you to include on your hospital intranet, newsletter, department emails, weekly bulletins, etc.
We have stickers, flyers, and business card size information brochures that you can share with your patients and your hospital. Any of these can be customized to include your hospital's name/logo, phone numbers. Just make sure to get permission from your hospital before distributing information with their name/logo!
Founded in 2018, Patient Voting 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
Increase knowledge of healthcare providers and the public that voting while hospitalized is both possible and a right of patients
Increase the number of emergency absentee ballots in states as compared to the 2016 election
Create a network with Patient Voting representatives in healthcare facilities in all 50 states
Work with other patient advocacy and voting groups