From Front Lines to Voting Lines: Nurses Need to Vote in 2020

Judy A. Rollins, PhD, RN

Disclosures

Pediatr Nurs. 2020;46(5):213-214. 

In early May, a 1-square meter, largely black-and-white painting appeared in the foyer near the emergency department at Southampton General Hospital in England (see Figure 1). A young boy is kneeling by a trashcan, in which he has discarded his Batman and Spiderman figures in favor of a nurse. The work was created by Banksy, an anonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director. Banksy left a note for the hospital workers that read, "Thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it's only black and white."

Figure 1.

Game Changer, 2020.
Note: Banksy's artwork, Game Changer, was donated to England's Southampton General Hospital. The artwork is on display in a foyer near the emergency department. In Fall 2020, it is intended to be auctioned to raise money for the National Health Service.
Source: Courtesy of Pest Control Office, Banksy, Game Changer, 2020. Printed with permission.

Banksy's image provides more evidence that the dedication and difficult service nurses have displayed in the face of the severe challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have not gone unnoticed. The world is witness; it is not surprising that nurses are considered the most trusted professionals on the front line of health care delivery.

Nurses' voices carry immense weight, and now, more than ever, it is critical those voices are heard loud and clear in local, state, and federal elections. The Tri-Council for Nursing is an alliance between the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing representing nurses in practice, nurse leaders, and nursing educators (see Figure 2). The alliance recently released a joint statement urging nurses to exercise their right to vote in the 2020 Election:

Figure 2.

Tri-Council for Nursing Members

The Tri-Council for Nursing calls upon all nurses to carefully weigh the positions, proposals, and legislative voting records of candidates who aspire to elected office on November 3, 2020. In these unprecedented times, voting may look different, especially with early voting options and vote-by-mail opportunities becoming increasingly relevant.
As we get closer to Election Day, the Tri-Council strongly recommends that you consider the safest way for you to cast your vote. To ensure you have the best information available and are ready to cast your ballot, follow these three simple steps:
1. Register. Double check if you are registered to vote by going to Vote.gov. Some states allow same-day registration, but it is important to check now to ensure that you are prepared for Election Day.
2. Do Your Research. While 2020 is a Presidential Election Year, there are many open seats at the state and local levels as well. It is important to research not only who will be on the ballot, but any proposals that may also be up for consideration this election season. To learn more about local and state voting plans, gain information on polling places, mail-in options, or absentee ballots, visit:
   • American Nurses Association: https://nursesvote.org/
   • American Association of Colleges of Nursing: https://www.aacnnursing.org/Policy-Advocacy/Get-Involved/Nursing-Voices-Nursing-Votes
   • American Organization for Nursing Leadership: https://wecarewevote.aha.org/
   • USA.gov/voting
3. Vote. COVID-19 states are also looking at how to provide socially distant voting in person. Look at your work schedule, check out voting options in your state, find your polling site, and determine the best way for you to vote in this year's election.
We understand our country continues to face many challenges, and nurses continue to answer the call to meet the demands of our nation's health and safety, from rural towns to urban centers. With more than 5 million nurses nationwide, there is power in our voice. So this year, during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, exercise that power by going from the front lines to voting lines to cast your ballot in the 2020 Election.

Nurses can also play a powerful role in advocating for others to vote. Two obstetrical nurses, Lisa Schavrien and Erin Smith, created a program to help New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital patients vote. A few days before an election, patients are given an application for an absentee ballot. A volunteer then takes their application to the local election board where the patient is registered. The volunteer returns with a ballot for the patient to complete. Once the patient has voted, a volunteer hand-delivers the ballot to the local election board. The program, which Schavrien and Smith began during the 2018 election, has now moved beyond Lenox Hill Hospital to other health care facilities.

So, along with strong voices, nurses also have creativity in abundance. I encourage you to consider what you might do beyond casting your vote to seeing that others also have this important opportunity.

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