PHILADELPHIA Dec. 25, 2023 – Voting in U.S. elections and health are directly connected and ensuring equitable access to the electoral process would advance health equity, says the American College of Physicians (ACP) in a new policy brief published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “Ensuring Equitable Access to Participation in the Electoral Process: A Policy Brief from the American College of Physicians” makes recommendations about what needs to be done to inform physicians, medical students, and other health care professionals on the links between electoral processes and health, encourage civic participation, and offers policy recommendations to support safe and equitable access to electoral participation to advance health equity for both patients and health care professionals.
Low voter turnout rates and inequitable electoral structures, such as gerrymandered districts, can skew policy decisions toward the preferences of a smaller group and further exclude individuals and communities who have been historically marginalized and excluded from decision making processes. Civic participation connects individuals to their community and empowers them with agency in decision making.
The paper states that ACP recognizes that voting impacts health and health care and supports policies that ensure safe and equitable access to voting, opposing the institution of barriers to both the process of voter registration and the act of casting a vote.
Additionally, ACP supports the drawing of fair, representative, and non-partisan electoral districts and recognizes that partisan gerrymandering may exacerbate health inequities through the disenfranchisement of vulnerable communities and supports efforts to end the practice of partisan gerrymandering.
ACP encourages medical students, residents, physicians, and other health care professionals to vote, supports efforts to eliminate barriers to their participation in the electoral process, and encourages non-partisan health care-sponsored voter engagement as a strategy to increase health equity for patients and health care professionals.
“Unfair election practices penalize people – especially those from disadvantaged communities – in the process of voting,” said Omar T. Atiq, M.D., MACP, president, ACP. “Those who represent them determine policies that impact all facets of their lives. ACP supports efforts to make access to voting and other electoral processes more equitable and responsive to the needs of all individuals and communities.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 161,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on X, Facebook and Instagram.
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