Here’s something nice for a change: A New York hospital is experimenting with a program to help patients vote when they find themselves in the maternity ward rather than able to get to their polling place on Election Day.
The New York Times has a brief piece on a pilot program at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan (where, for the record, Beyonce had Blue Ivy) to help patients vote, launched by assistant nurse manager Erin Ainslie Smith and obstetric nurse navigator Lisa Schavrien:
“We’re doing all the legwork,” said Ms. Smith, which will include multiple runs to pick up and drop off ballots at the Board of Elections offices in the five boroughs, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
The idea came about in 2016, when Ms. Smith realized it was difficult for many patients to vote absentee. That same year, for the first time, Ms. Schavrien helped a patient vote.
In 2016, Schavrien made two trips from the Upper East Side to Staten Island and back that year to help patients vote, which is truly going above and beyond the call of duty.
Really, for many patients, even once you have to be in the hospital, there’s plenty of waiting around during labor when you could easily bubble in an absentee ballot—the problem is more that you just can’t get to your polling place on Election Day. It’s a logistical problem, time-consuming but straightforward to solve. Hence the program, which relies on volunteers and aims to make it possible for every patient at the hospital—and not just those on the maternity wards—to vote by 2020.
Of course, it would also be nice if those states that don’t have early voting—for instance, New York—could just go ahead and get it, for God’s sake.