Foster Civic Engagement: VotER Healthy Democracy Kits

Crystal Shen, MD, MPH, FAAP
Co-Chair, WCAAP Legislative Committee

As COVID-19 has shown, policy can have an immense impact on health. Voting is extremely important, now more than ever.  I recently heard about a non-partisan nonprofit organization called VotER, which is focused on health care based voter registration. VotER’s goal is to provide patients the opportunity to register to vote because much of our healthcare system and healthcare experiences are determined by the policies our elected officials implement.

VotER created Healthy Democracy Kits with badgebackers and lanyards that make it easy to have a patient use their own phone to register to vote or to request a mail-in ballot to vote at home this election cycle. Patients get a link via a QR code or texting “VOTE HEALTH” to 3444 and information appears in English and Spanish. The online platform walks them through either process in 90 seconds or less, allowing you go on to see the next patient. There’s also a text helpline available in English and Spanish.

As pediatricians and healthcare providers, this is one way that we can advocate for patients, by facilitating their ability to safely participate in the November election by getting them registered to vote or helping them get a vote at home ballot. There’s even options for this via telehealth. The Healthy Democracy Kits are free and you can sign up at the link below.


PS: This video gives a nice overview –

VotER has also launched Civic Health Month for the month of August, dedicated to focusing on patient and provider civic engagement. This is a nonpartisan collaboration between healthcare organizations, voter registration organizations, and healthcare providers aimed at making the connection between civic engagement and healthcare. The AAP is an official partnering organization for Civic Health Month, joining many organizations and hospitals across the nation. Webinars on civic engagement in healthcare are available throughout August.

There are also multiple actions you can choose from to take now:

  1. Add voter registration to your email signature here.
  2. If you haven’t already – order yourself a Healthy Democracy Kit here.
  3. Start having conversations with patients using our scripts here.
  4. Get your clinic set up with posters here.
  5. If you’d like to be a partner or be featured in Civic Health Month reach out here.
  6. Take this 2 min survey with a pre-drafted email and help spread this work at hospitals across the country by clicking here.
  7. If you want to let colleagues know about the Healthy Democracy Kit a pre-written email draft is here.
  8. If you can make a small dollar donation to keep this work going click here.
  9. If you need resources to help secure institutional approval for VotER, there are some useful resources, one pagers, and legal briefs you can share with your administration here.

*Editor’s note: AAP will be launching a Get Out The Vote campaign tomorrow, Thursday August 6, with a focus on the connection between health equity and voting. We will share the digital toolkit along with information to join an August 25 webinar as soon as they are released.