Advocate for your health – vote!
November 3rd, 2020 – ring any bells? I hope so – it’s Election Day this year. I’m Dwight Chambers, a resident in Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital, and I’d like to take a second to talk to share my personal views and enthusiasm about voting this year.
Now I’ve been talking to enough young voters to know that your doctor isn’t exact the person you expect to talk to you about voting. Kidneys? Check. Broken bones? Of course. Sore throats? – yes! But, ballots? As a doctor, I think about things that impact health like viruses and genes, medications and x-rays – but health extends beyond that and is shaped by the kinds of communities in which we live. My only motivation in talking to you about voting is in creating communities that can advocate for their own health and interests, whatever those interests may be.
Now, how do you vote? First, you have to register! Registering to vote is easy – if you have a phone, you can get registered by texting “VOTE HEALTH” to 34444 or by visiting https://vot-er.org/votetracking and following the instructions. If you don’t have internet access, you can always register to vote in person – the forms and locations you can use vary by state and are in government buildings like your city or town hall. In order to register to vote in a national election, you have to be a US citizen. Many states have an age requirement (16 in Massachusetts, where I live) to register to vote but you won’t be able to cast a ballot in this election unless you’re older than 18 by November 3rd, 2020. Don’t delay – many states have deadlines (October 24th, 2020 in Massachusetts) to register to vote that are coming up soon! Once you’re registered to vote, you may be able to cast a ballot in a variety of different ways:
- Voting in person on November 3rd, 2020;
- Voting in person during “early voting”;
- Voting by mail
The exact options available to you will vary based on where you live. In Massachusetts, all voters can vote by mail as long as you request a ballot by October 28th, 2020 (you can request a ballot here: (https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/) and return the ballot by mail (“postmarked”) or return the ballot in person to your town hall/city hall by November 3rd, 2020. Early voting in Massachusetts began on Saturday, October 17th, 2020 and runs until October 30th, 2020. In Massachusetts, early voting sites by city are listed here: http://massearlyvote.com. If you’re going to vote on Election Day, make a plan to get to your voting site, which is listed on your voter registration. Because everything is affected by COVID-19, be sure to wear a mask and give yourself plenty of time to vote since everyone will need to socially distance while voting.
What will actually be on your ballot this year will depend on where you live, but, in general, there will be national races (President, Congress) and possibly state and local races as well as “ballot questions” or specific issues you can vote on directly. Look up your ballot ahead of time on your state’s official “.gov” election site to see what races and issues are up for consideration this election or get a sample ballot at your local town/city hall.
Every community is improved when all voters have a chance to express themselves. I hope you’ll take a minute and help make your community healthier by voting today!