Both health and healthcare will play vital roles in deciding the outcome of the forthcoming United States presidential election — even if, at first glance, the latest numbers don’t appear to support that claim.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) health tracking poll from February, 26% of registered voters said that healthcare was the single most important issue when deciding their vote for president.

Fast-forward 8 months, and the same KFF poll for September shows that nearly a third of the electorate now have the economy as the key deciding factor (32%). Healthcare has dropped to fifth place, with just 10%.

Look a little deeper, though, and issues pertaining to health pervade almost every key factor influencing voter turnout in 2020. 

How could they not? After all, this is the year of the coronavirus pandemic — a singular global health crisis that has contributed directly to the sharpest contraction in the U.S. economy since records began in 1947.

Small wonder, then, that the virus ranks second in September’s poll as a key deciding factor, with 20%. 

At the time of writing, the U.S. has recorded more than 6.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 200,000 related deaths. A bleak indictment of government health policy by any measure.

And as much as voting patterns in 2020 will be shaped by the policies, systems, and institutions that underpin U.S. healthcare, we must also consider this election, and its outcome, through the lens of the nation’s collective and individual health realities. 

Over the course of the next 6 weeks, the editorial team here at Medical News Today will do just that, examining the complex relationship between health, voting, and the electorate in the U.S.

We’ll explore topics including the causal link between poor self-rated health and lower voting rates, the connection between civic engagement and prevailing health inequities, the differing health paradigms at state level, and the correlation between voting and mental well-being

In partnership with VoteAmerica — a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout — we’ll also provide you with resources and information (including our Safe Voting Guide) to help you vote in an informed and safe way, whether you’re planning to do so by mail or in person (or are currently undecided).

For information on how to vote safely, download our Safe Voting Guide here:

To end by paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, the health of a democracy, much like the health of an individual, thrives on information.

It is my sincere hope that the information MNT provide in the run-up to November 3 will encourage and empower you, our readers and the citizens of America, to exercise your democratic right in order to bring about the change so vital to ensuring that we all get to live stronger, healthier lives. 

Stay safe, 

Robin Hough

Editor-in-Chief, Medical News Today 

To check your voter registration status, click here to visit the website of VoteAmerica, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout. They can also help you register to vote, vote by mail, request an absentee ballot, or find your polling place.