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Vote Like Your Life Depends On It: The Health Impact of Voting

Check/ Update Your Voter Registration Today

After seeing the last presidential debate, having a serious conversation about voting is hard. Our options are horrendous, but we must vote like our lives depend on it. Because, in many ways, they do.

Recent research has shown that voting is not just a civic duty, but a crucial factor in determining health outcomes. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized voting as a social determinant of health, acknowledging its significant impact on overall well-being. The importance of voting as a social and political determinant of health has been widely documented and its importance is deeply rooted in the history of the United States, where systemic racism and voter suppression tactics have long contributed to health inequities, particularly affecting marginalized communities.

  1. Better Health Outcomes: Studies consistently show that higher levels of voting are associated with improved health, regardless of who people vote for. This suggests that the act of civic participation itself may have health benefits.

  2. Reduced Mortality Rates: Historical evidence indicates that expanding voting rights has led to decreased mortality rates. For example, women's suffrage was linked to an 8-15% reduction in child mortality.

  3. Economic and Healthcare Improvements: The Voting Rights Act has been associated with reduced economic inequality and increased health spending.

  4. Mental Health Benefits: A 14-year study following adolescents found that voting was associated with improved mental health and greater socioeconomic status.

  5. Cancer Prevention: Higher voter turnout rates have been linked to a significantly reduced risk of cancer death.

The impact of voting on health is so significant that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended including voter participation as a leading health indicator for Healthy People 2030. This recommendation was based on strong evidence and its considerable bearing on health equity and disparities.

Additionally, the VOICE Project at UCSF corroborates this information, stating that teens and young adults who vote are more likely to have positive health, educational, and economic outcomes over their lifespan. Even after correcting for selection bias, youth voting predicts increased personal and household income levels, higher levels of education, abstinence from heavy drinking and smoking, and fewer symptoms of depression.

It's important to note that communities facing challenges in casting their ballots (due to racism and voter suppression tactics) often also face the greatest health challenges. This underscores the interconnection between voting access and health disparities. By exercising your right to vote, you're not just participating in democracy – you're potentially improving your own health and the health of your community. So remember, when you cast your ballot, you're not just voting for a candidate or a policy. You're voting for better health outcomes, reduced inequality, and a stronger, healthier society.

Don't let the unappealing options discourage you. Your vote matters more than you might think. Vote like your life depends on it – because in many ways, it does.

The TN Registration Deadline is July 2, 2024

Black Health Matters Tennessee

BLACK HEALTH MATTERS PLEDGE I recognize that racial health disparities are caused by longstanding systemic barriers and injustice, not the individual behaviors or choices of Black people. I understand that by centering the needs of Black people, who are the most underserved people in our healthcare system, we can design a system that works better for everyone. I also recognize that my vote has the power to shape the future of health equity and transform health outcomes for all. 

I am committed to doing my part to promote health justice so that everyone has access to quality, affordable health care.  

  • I pledge to be informed and engage in anti-racist actions to transform our healthcare system to better serve Black people and achieve health equity for all. 

  • I pledge to become an informed health justice voter. 

  • I pledge to inform others about the importance of voting and advocating for health equity. 

  • I pledge to engage in civic participation, ensuring that my voice is heard in championing a fair and healthy society. 

Where is asks, “How did you hear about Black Health Matters Tennessee?“, put “BMHV or Black Mental Health Village“

Learn More about Black Health Matters TN by visiting


Youth voting and health outcomes

  • Ballard PJ, Hoyt LT, Pachucki MC. Impacts of Adolescent and Young Adult Civic Engagement on Health and Socioeconomic Status in Adulthood. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.12998

  • Wray-Lake L, Shubert J, Lin L, Starr LR (2019). Examining associations between civic engagement and depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood in a national U.S. sample. Applied Developmental Science. 23(2):119-131. doi:10.1080/10888691.2017.1326825

  • Blakeley, T.,  Kennedy, B., Kawachi, I. (2001). “Socioeconomic inequality in voting participation and self-rated health.” American Journal of Public Health. (1): 99–104. doi:10.2105/ajph.91.1.99

Youth voting behavior 

Voter engagement in medical settings

  • Lickiss S, Lowery L, Triemstra JD. Voter Registration and Engagement in an Adolescent and Young Adult Primary Care Clinic (2019). J Adolesc Health. ;0(0). doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.11.316 

  • Liggett A, Sharma M, Nakamura Y, Villar R, Selwyn P (2014). Results of a Voter Registration Project at 2 Family Medicine Residency Clinics in the Bronx, New York. Ann Fam Med. ;12(5):466-469. doi:10.1370/afm.1686

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