More than 30,000 people have chosen to vote early for the Tennessee primary election this Thursday, and research finds what happens at the ballot box is closely tied to health outcomes in communities.
A report from the Tennessee Justice Center found that the nation’s least healthy states also have significantly lower voter participation rates. Kinika Young, the center’s senior director of health policy and equity, said the pandemic has highlighted how public health and voting are intertwined, as the state adjusted mail-in voting and staggered hours at polling sites for the 2020 presidential election.
“The channels that were created to convey public-health messages during the pandemic,” she said, “those same channels can be utilized to use as ‘get out the vote’ platforms as well.”
Tennessee’s Aug. 4 primary will determine which candidates appear on November’s General Election ballot for governor, the U.S. House and the state Legislature. Polling hours vary by county, but all locations close at 7 p.m. Thursday Central Time. Tennesseans voting on Election Day must bring a valid form of photo ID. More information is online at govotetn.org.
Young said health-care providers can play a critical role in helping to educate residents about voter registration, polling locations, and how redistricting may have changed which candidates appear on their ballot.
“They are in a unique role to help the patients they see understand why voting matters,” she said, “and do things like voter registration drives to get more people involved and active.”
A 2021 survey found nearly half of Tennesseans said lawmakers should work to address high health-care costs, including prescription drug prices.
Contact your local election commission for more information. 93.9 The Duck will provide live Election results starting at 7 pm.
Photo: From a 2020 study in Public Health Reviews: “Differences in voter participation due to social, economic, and health inequities have been shown to have large effects on electoral outcomes.” (Adobe Stock)