Health & Democracy Index

Policy Implications

There are several ways health and civic engagement policies can be more closely linked.

Update Voter Registration through Government Services

We can help people update their voter registration when they sign up for other government services, just like when they renew their driver’s license. This can be expanded to include more services, including health services such as Medicaid.

For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can empower states to let people update their registration when they enroll in Medicaid. Currently, 73 million people are enrolled in Medicaid. Health offices already verify relevant information for voting including people’s address, so this makes our elections more secure and helps election offices keep their voter registration information up to date. Further, enrollment happens every year, which means voters can easily keep their info up to date.

Restore Civic Participation to Our National Health Goals

The national Healthy People initiative is a roadmap for achieving national-level health goals over 10 year spans. Measuring and tracking these goals deeply informs local and state-level health plans, including through governments and hospital systems.

We should restore civic participation as one of Healthy People’s goals. Healthy People 2020 included metrics about voter registration and the portion of people who actually voted, from data found in the U.S. Census. But these metrics were dropped in Healthy People 2030. It could be immediately restored.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — the Congressionally chartered experts who advise the government on critical science issues — recommended including voting among 34 Leading Health Indicators.

Several public health organizations have already called on HHS + the Biden administration to add these measures back in.