Penn Medicine votes, and so should you: How to vote safely in 2020

Originally established in 2016, Penn Medicine Votes is a health system-wide, nonpartisan initiative that helps patients and employees vote in a safe and healthy manner. For the thousands of local area residents who weren’t planning on being admitted to a hospital on or around Election Day, the prospect of identifying a way to vote can seem incredibly daunting if not altogether impossible.

Medical worker in a cap and face mask holding up a sign that reads I Vote Because It Matters.

“Penn Medicine Votes helps in ensuring that hospital patients can be provided with an absentee ballot the day of the election,” says Associate Director of Government Relations Steven Cobb. “Fortunately, we were already working on this during the last general election, and regulations have been simplified so it’s become far easier for these individuals to participate in the democratic process than in previous elections.” For patients in Philadelphia, the process is as simple as requesting a ballot and casting their vote. “We have staff here that can help patients complete a ballot,” Cobb says. “Once it’s completed, that staff member will deliver the ballot to city hall.”

The Penn Medicine Votes initiative is not just about patients. There has been a concentrated effort aimed at ensuring both patients and staff who may be at a clinical location all day have the opportunity to vote. Plus, there has also been a system-wide effort to stress the importance of voting.

“I want to urge every member of the Penn Medicine community who is eligible to vote this year to please exercise your right. In our country, law and policy directly affect population health and, this year, policies that impact our health system and our patients are at stake,” writes UPHS CEO Kevin Mahoney in a message to the Penn Medicine community, in which he also emphasizes the many important issues in health care that are at stake.

One resource that has been fundamental in supporting Penn Medicine Votes is Penn Medicine’s partnership with VotER. On the organization’s website, staff and patients can register to vote, make a plan for how to vote, and encourage family and friends to vote safely.

With so much uncertainty around nearly every aspect of life this year, there’s never been a greater need for prospective voters to make a plan on how to vote safely, while ensuring their vote counts. One option has been to cast a ballot by mail. This option allows voters to avoid lines and potential exposure to COVID-19 by voting from the safety of their homes. The deadline for registered voters to request these ballots in New Jersey, Friday, Oct. 23, Pennsylvania is Tuesday, Oct. 27, and Delaware, Friday, Oct., 30. For those who plan to vote by mail, it’s important to follow the specific instructions for completing and mailing your ballot.

This story is by Chris Mallard. Read more at Penn Medicine News.