Voting is a public health issue: An intervention to address trainee voter participation in state and federal elections

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Conference Proceeding

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Publication Title

West J Emerg Med


Learning Objectives: To determine the extent to which residents vote in national elections and design effective interventions to improve the same. Background: There is no published data on voting rates (VT) of residents and fellows or barriers they may face, though practicing physicians vote less than the general public (GP). Residency programs and teaching hospitals may have opportunities to promote trainee civic engagement. Objectives: To measure voter registration (VR) and VT for trainees, identify barriers, and determine interventions to improve VR and VT. Methods: Trainees (n=869) at 3 Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) hospitals were surveyed in 2018 and 2020. They were asked about VR status, if they voted recently and barriers to voting. Based on 2018 survey results, VR and absentee ballot request forms were provided to new trainees during 2020 orientation and two informational sessions were held. In 2020, VR and VT were compared to survey results from 2158 trainees at local hospitals who did not receive the intervention. Additional comparisons matched trainees to GP age/gender cohorts. Analysis used descriptive statistics, chi-square or Fisher's exact tests, and univariate analyses. Free-text responses were categorized into themes with iterative discussion. Results: Response rate was 36% for HFHS trainees. VR and VT for trainees were higher than in the GP and were sustained when compared with age/gender matched cohorts (Table). Preliminary analyses of 2020 HFHS trainee data show VR and VT for primary and general elections increased over 2016 and 2018, with 91% voting in 2020 (Table). Forgetting to request absentee ballots and apathy were the most common barriers. Further 2020 analyses including non-HFHS trainees will be included in the final presentation. Conclusions: Prior data suggest that VR and VT are higher for among trainees vs GP. Programs may be able to improve trainee civic participation by encouraging VR, absentee balloting and informational sessions. Limitations included a low response rate. Generalizability to other states may be limited due to unique voting regulations.

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Not assigned





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