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Why is voting a public health issue and what can public health do to maximize voter turnout?

Date: Oct 25 2020

EMBARGOED UNTIL Oct. 26, 2020, 8:30 a.m. MT
Contact: Media Relations 

Voting is a public health issue, as it impacts civic policies ranging from budgets to carrying firearms to insurance and LGBTQ rights.

A 2020 APHA Annual Meeting and Expo session will be held 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Mountain Time on Monday, Oct. 26, that will focus on inequities as a structural problem that requires long-term solutions beyond Election Day, Nov. 3. Panelists will talk about organizing the vote for minimal health risk during the pandemic, and how increased voter engagement results in passage of ballot measures and the election of candidates supporting better health outcomes and reduced inequities. The session will feature presentations from:

  • Oxiris Barbot, MD, senior fellow for public health and social justice at the JPB Foundation, outlining the need to leverage partnerships with communities to ensure voting.
  • Shana Alex Charles, MPP, PhD, at California State University, Fullerton, explaining how voter engagement is associated with better health and greater social cohesion in local neighborhoods.
  • Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES, commissioner of health at the Milwaukee Health Department, discussing voting and public health in the city.
  • Brianna Carmen, director of organizing and partnerships at the Voto Latino Foundation, discussing the need to ensure that the voices of people in the Latino community are heard.
  • Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, assistant state health officer at the Louisiana Department of Health, discussing practical steps health departments can take to organize the vote and minimize public health risks.

Add this session to your personalized schedule.

The APHA Annual Meeting and Expo is the largest and most influential yearly gathering of public health professionals. Themed “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence," this year’s virtual meeting will be held Oct. 24-28. Register or learn more about APHA’s 2020 Annual Meeting. Working members of the news media may register by contacting mediarelations@apha.org.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.