Dr. Hemming explains the importance of voting

Sunday, August 23, 2020
This post was submitted by GIM Assistant Professor of Medicine, Dr. J. Patrick Hemming.

Political participation and practicing medicine?  Do those things even go together?  The correct answer is yes, and if the answer to that question was ever in doubt, along came 2020.  This year has brought about the health crisis of a century.  The COVID19 pandemic will change our nation in ways that will influence the rest of our lives and those of the coming generations.  As medical professionals, and especially as generalists, we cannot ignore the imperative call to take an active role in our community and nation’s response.

As medical professionals, and especially as generalists, we cannot ignore the imperative call to take an active role in our community and nation’s response.

Anyone who works around me knows this is important to me, since I generally have some wardrobe item these days as a reminder for everyone to vote.  Each one of us needs to use our sphere of influence responsibly, and get those around us to vote.

I see patient interactions as one of these opportunities:  “…and as we wrap up the visit, I wanted to give you a nudge to make sure you have registered and made a plan to vote,” I say as I smile and hand the after-visit summary to my patient.  I have done some variation on this message.  Patients respond positively and appreciatively. I do not (and should not) tell patients how to vote, only give an encouragement to consider the health of themselves and their loved ones and cast a ballot.

Voting will likely be more complicated this fall.  I encourage patients to ensure they update their registration for their current address and have a plan for how they are going to vote. 

Each of us as a Duke physician has a position of influence and responsibility.  Let us each commit to using it in a way that will make a difference.

Below is some logistical information that you and your contacts need:

Voter Registration

First: Check to make sure that you are registered at your current address.  The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles makes this easier for voters with North Carolina IDs at:  NC DMV Voter Site.  Otherwise, download the registration form at: NC Voter Registration Form, complete and submit the form to your county’s board of elections.  Make sure to fill out contact information so that the office can contact you if there is an issue with your submission.

Once voters have received their ballots, they can complete them and submit them via mail or in-person to their county’s board of elections.  Absentee ballots require a single witness’ signature.  Once an absentee ballot has been sent in, voters cannot vote in person.  Receipt of the ballot can be confirmed with the county board of elections.

Voting in person

If you choose to vote in-person and you have already requested an absentee ballot, state law requires you destroy the absentee ballot.

Do not vote in-person if you have already mailed your absentee ballot.

Absentee Voting

To begin, complete an absentee ballot request form and submit it to your County Board of Elections. Here’s a step-by-step guide to this process: 

  1. Access the 2020 NC Absentee Ballot request form here.
  2. Fill out the form. Provide your full legal name; DOB; NC driver license number or last four digits of your SSN; current NC residential address; email address or phone number; and the address where you want your ballot sent.
  3. Submit your completed ballot request form:
    • By email to your local County Board of Elections. For Durham County this is absentee@dconc.gov.
    • By fax to your County Board of Elections. For Durham County, this is 919-560-0688
    • By mail to your County Board of Elections. For Durham County, this is Attn: Absentee Ballots, PO Box 868, Durham, NC, 27702
    • In-person drop-off at your County Board of Elections’ office. For Durham County, this is 201 N. Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27701.
      *Please note: your ballot request form must be received by your County Board of Elections by 5 PM on October 27th.

To check whether your application was received and accepted, contact the State Board or your county board of elections.

If you properly complete and submit the form, your County Board of Elections will mail you a ballot with a self-addressed return envelope. Fill out your ballot in the presence of a witness, have the witness sign in the appropriate space, enclose the ballot in the return envelope, stamp and mail it, allowing an adequate number of days for your ballot to be delivered in time to be counted. Your completed ballot must be received by your county Board of Elections by 5 PM on Election Day (November 3rd). 

For additional information, visit the NC State Board of Elections’ website here