As Election Day nears, here’s how you can step up to help patients vote

November 7, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Approximately a 3-minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Election Day is tomorrow, Nov. 8, and some patients will request the right to vote from the hospital.
  • Emergency absentee ballots are available and social workers and med student volunteers know how to help patients utilize them.
  • There are many guidelines that will help you have appropriate, nonpartisan conversations with patients over the next few days.

Tomorrow is Election Day, and for some current or soon-to-be patients at Michigan Medicine, that could lead to added stress and confusion.

Fortunately, there are resources available for Michigan Medicine team members to step up and help those who are facing an unexpected hospitalization.

Here’s how you can help those who want to vote over the next two days.

Emergency absentee ballots available

Michigan Medicine is committed to nonpartisan conversation and support around voting to empower patients to make an informed plan to vote.

That’s why U-M Health social workers and U-M Medical School students are provided training in the resources needed to appropriately direct patients and families in accessing an emergency absentee ballot while hospitalized. Click here to learn how to utilize these team members.

Inpatients and their families are considered eligible for an emergency ballot if the emergency made it impossible to apply for a regular absentee voter ballot (i.e. the emergency must have occurred after 5 p.m. on Friday prior to the election). 

The request must be made by 4 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8.

In 2020, this process helped a number of patients at Michigan Medicine make their voice heard, including:

  • A patient exercising their right to vote for the first time
  • A patient who had not missed an election in 50+ years
  • Patients with COVID-19
  • Patients welcoming new babies during the election

Having appropriate conversations

Talking with patients about voting is important — yet it can be challenging to ensure you do so in a nonpartisan way.

Follow these general guidelines to support nonpartisan speech among Michigan Medicine professionals with patients and their visitors:

  • Ask questions and avoid making statements or assumptions.
    • Remember that Michigan law requires established residency in order to register to vote in Michigan. Additionally, stating that Michigan is a ‘swing state’ and telling the patient that their vote will “count more” in Michigan is not recommended.
    • Note that when registering to vote in Michigan, declaring your affiliation with a political party is not required. This can help ease possible tensions around partisanship for care providers, patients and their support systems.
  • A patient or member of their support system may ask who you plan to vote for.
    • In this instance, it is perfectly fine to say that you are researching the candidates for every position on the ballot, and to support the patient in that process by visiting Vote 411 is a nonpartisan resource created by the League of Women Voters where people can view their sample ballot and research candidates by entering their address.
    • It is helpful to make clear that you are invested in everyone exercising their right to vote.
  • Help answer questions about the registration form.
    • The Michigan voter registration form includes two small check boxes at the top of the form regarding U.S. citizenship and age, which are easy to miss. Note that both must be checked for the form to be considered complete.
    • The Michigan voter registration form includes only two gender options: male and female. The gender binary is a limitation of the form in its current state, it is important to know that leaving those boxes blank will not disqualify you from registering.

Click here for more information on helping patients exercise their right to vote.