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FAQs

Civic Engagement in Healthcare

Is it legal to conduct voter registration activities in hospitals and other healthcare settings?

Yes, it's legal for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to conduct nonpartisan voter registration and education activity.

The IRS explicitly states that “501(c)(3) organizations may conduct voter engagement", and the Health Resources & Services Administration has affirmed that community health centers can run "non-partisan voter registration efforts as a means of reducing barriers to civic engagement within the communities they serve."

I’m worried that this type of outreach will interfere with care.

Vot-ER helps clinics implement civic engagement while ensuring an uninterrupted care experience for patients and staff.

All of Vot-ER 's tools and programs are designed to work independently of healthcare staff involvement, and voter registration is done exclusively through patients' personal devices. A voter text hotline is available to patients 24/7.

More than 130 healthcare sites and thousands of health care professionals across the country use Vot- ER in their daily practice. If you're concerned about the impact of civic engagement on your clinic's operations, please reach out. We want to work with you to address your concerns.

My institution has concerns that non-US citizens will be turned away by the stigma of voter registration at the hospital.

We understand how important it is to address the barriers that many immigrants face when seeking care. Vot-ER tools and programs can be implemented in a thoughtful way that doesn't exclude non-citizens. Instead of asking all patients to register to vote, create non-intrusive opportunities for eligible patients to connect with our voter registration platform by placing Vot-ER posters, handouts, and badges in select areas.  Ultimately, we leave it up to each site to weigh the risks and benefits of promoting voter registration.

About Vot-ER

What about HIPAA?

Patients choose whether to use Vot-ER’s platform, and when they do so, they share information on their own phones. Thus, voter information is not subject to HIPAA regulations.

In the event that you help a patient enter their information on the voter registration platform, do not use patient data from their medical record. Only use information you received directly from the patient.

My institution has concerns that noncitizens will register to vote using Vot-ER.

Both online voter registrations platforms and offline voter registration paperwork provide clear information about who is eleigible to vote, and require the registrant to affirm that they are a U.S. citizen.

Is there a fact sheet or one-pager I can share with my institution?

Yes, please download and share our fact sheet.

Be sure to emphasize that Vot-ER 's tools are nonpartisan, non-intrusive, and completely voluntary. Patients decide for themselves if they want to use Vot-ER's platform, and can only access the platform using their own phones.

Where are Vot-ER tools currently used?

Vot-ER tools are used at hundreds of healthcare sites, ranging from large academic medical centers like Massachusetts General Hospital and UPenn, to community hospitals like Tuscon Medical Center and primary care clinics like First Choice Primary Care. You can view an updated list of participating sites at vot-er.org/map. 

Vot-ER Badges

What if patients have questions about voter registration that I cannot answer?

We partnered with VoteRiders to create a patient helpline with a chatbot and live person available 24/7 in English and Spanish.

How can I get started while I wait for my Vot-ER badge to arrive?

We love that enthusiasm and we're so excited to have you on board! To get started right away, download a Vot-ER phone wallpaper, print a digital badge, and add a voter registration message to your email signature.

Do I have to get approval before wearing a Vot-ER badge?

The vast majority of health care workers do not need to get approval. As a healthcare professional, you’re free to place any information on your ID badge that is helpful to you and your patients. The important thing to remember is that patients choose whether to use Vot-ER’s registration platform and when they do so, they share information on their own phones. In short, you are offering patients an opportunity to access voter information—you’re not conducting the registration yourself.

Do the Vot-ER badges from last election still work?

Absolutely. All Vot-ER materials will continue to work until at least the end of 2024. Older badges (from before August 2021) have all new features except individualized tracking.

Is it legal to conduct voter registration activities in hospitals and other healthcare settings?

Yes, it's legal for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to conduct nonpartisan voter registration and education activity.

The IRS explicitly states that “501(c)(3) organizations may conduct voter engagement", and the Health Resources & Services Administration has affirmed that community health centers can run "non-partisan voter registration efforts as a means of reducing barriers to civic engagement within the communities they serve."

Can I get badges to distribute to other people?

Absolutely. Thank you!