View full video of the press call HERE.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan physicians today encouraged voters to stay safe from COVID-19 while casting their ballots for the General Election by choosing a safe voting option, which could include voting early in person at local clerk’s offices, sending their absentee ballot as soon as possible via mail or using a secure dropbox, or exercising safety precautions — including wearing masks — while voting in person during Election Day on Nov. 3 at their polling place.
“As physicians, we have a responsibility to help Michigan voters exercise their right as citizens while knowing that we can vote in person safely by taking science- and evidence-based precautions,” said Dr. Farhan Bhatti, MD, a family physician in Lansing and Michigan State Lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare, as well as a member of the bipartisan VoteSafe Michigan coalition. “We applaud the steps Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and local clerks are taking to maximize voters’ safety and increase voting security. Voting early at our local clerk’s office can help reduce crowds on Election Day, as well as limit the number of people poll workers interact with on Nov. 3. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing a mask, keeping six feet apart and frequent handwashing to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Our message to voters is ‘Go vote and do it safely.'”
Bhatti and other physicians called on voters to practice diligent safety behaviors as COVID-19 cases increased this week in Michigan. Neighboring states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana saw record-breaking surges in positive cases this week, with hospitals in some of those states near capacity.
“The scientific evidence is clear: The best way to keep ourselves safe, reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and minimize outbreaks to protect people in our communities is by wearing a mask, keeping our distance and maintaining good personal hygiene –and these rules apply inside and outside the voting booth,” said Dr. Jan Liu, a family physician who practices in Perry. Dr. Jan Liu, MD, a family physician who practices in Perry “As physicians, we are asking people to please listen to the science and the medical professionals, and not to politicians who continue to spread dangerous, medically inaccurate misinformation. Michigan and the entire country still faces public health risks from COVID-19, but by taking simple precautions and doing everything we can to reduce crowded gatherings, we can keep each other safer and reduce risks as we head to the ballot box.”
To maximize safety when voting in-person, the physicians urged the following:
- All voters should wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- All voters should maintain social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet away from the nearest person.
- Voters should wash their hands frequently, and practice strong personal hygiene before, during and after they go to a polling location.
- Elections officials should set up hand sanitizing stations at polling locations.
- Elections officials should keep individuals at least 6 feet apart from each other and encourage voters to wear masks.
The physicians said voters can also encourage their local clerks to increase the number of secure ballot drop boxes and extend office hours to accommodate higher voter interest and participation in the General Election. Some communities have expanded services and hours in recent weeks, including Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and several in the metro Detroit area.
For those who choose to return their absentee ballots by mail, the physicians encouraged voters to mail them two weeks — no later than Oct. 20 — before Election Day, in light of ongoing concerns over U.S. Postal Service delivery delays.
This year’s general election is the first major election to implement reforms that voters approved in 2018 designed to make voting more convenient and more secure in Michigan. The 2018 reforms now allow eligible voters to register to vote at any Secretary of State office, their local clerk’s office or during registration drives by Oct. 19, and request an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Between Oct. 20 and 8 p.m. on Election Day Nov. 3, voters can register at their local clerk’s office. Voters can cast their ballot early either in-person at their clerk’s office, depositing them in secure drop boxes in the community where they are registered to vote and by mailing their ballots. In some communities, such as Detroit, voters can also register to vote and cast their ballots early at satellite voting locations.
The reforms are already leading to increased voter participation, with absentee ballot requests higher than in the previous 2016 presidential election. Anticipating high voter participation, several communities are increasing the number of secure ballot drop boxes.
Resources for Michigan voters:
Register to vote and get other information: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/
Find a secure ballot drop box in the community: https://michigandropbox.com/
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger healthcare system in America. To learn more: https://committeetoprotect.org/
NOTE: The physicians above are speaking in their capacity as members of the Committee to Protect Medicare. They should be identified only as indicated in this news release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 13, 2020
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