Election Day is November 2, 2021. Historically, years with a presidential election have higher voter turnout than local elections. This map shows the percent of the population over 18 (eligible voters), by county, that participated in the 2018 election.
In 2016, when there was a presidential candidate, 50% of New Yorkers visited the polls to elect their local leaders. By contrast, in 2018 only 26% of New Yorkers visited the polls. Monroe County had slightly better rates than the state, with voter participation of 60% in 2016 (a presidential election year) and 48% in 2018 (a local election year).
When we think of measures that are a barometer of a community’s health, voter participation might not readily come to mind. However, according to the Health and Democracy Index, there is a positive relationship between voter turnout and health. Their tool analyzes 12 public health indicators (things like overall health, poor mental health days, insurance coverage, safety and mortality) and evaluates individual states on those indicators. Overall, communities with a strong public health infrastructure also have more active voters. They explain, “when communities vote they influence policy decisions that have a big effect on their health.” Better access to voting leads to more voting which leads to better health.
Work is being done to make sure that all people have access to vote, and to encourage participation in local elections as well as presidential ones. Vot-ER engages healthcare providers to support colleagues and patients to register to vote. Nonprofit Vote works with human service providers who similarly have a direct connection to eligible voters.
So remember to mark your calendars for November 2. It’s good for your community, and for your health.