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STEM Students: “Doc” the Vote!

The word "Vote" is written on a blackboard, with a blue latex-gloved hand making the letter V.

Midterm elections are right around the corner. Now is the time to register to vote — the Maryland registration deadline is Oct. 16, 2018.

Why should health care workers and scientists care about voting? Simply put, the very foundations of our professions, such as access to health care or funding for research, are dictated by federal policies. Despite our profession’s intimate connection to the policy realm, a recent study conducted by Tufts University shows that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors are less likely to vote than other majors.

This low turnout among STEM majors at the polling booths may be lending to the current trend away from evidence-based policymaking, which effectively dampens the integrity of scientific expertise as a whole. Not only is science being overlooked in policymaking, but recently, particularly in the realm of climate change, many policies have actually been enacted to purposefully silence science. Johns Hopkins has proudly been the national leader on research spending for almost four decades. As Johns Hopkins affiliates, we should care to elect representatives who support legislation that doesn’t actively eschew all we are working to accomplish.

Luckily, Maryland makes it easy to register to vote. Maryland even has generous policies about absentee voting, allowing you to vote ahead of time if your work schedule doesn’t allow you to head to the nearest polling station on Nov. 6.

If you’re not from Maryland, resources like Rock the Vote are very helpful. This website will teach you more about how to register to vote in your home state, and it even offers election reminder services. Additionally, if you want to learn more about specific candidates, Vote USA provides a user-friendly platform that allows you to compare your local candidates’ positions on policies of interest to you. If that’s not enough for you, the Union of Concerned Scientists has created an action guide to teach you how to be an effective advocate for science for this midterm election.

Voting can help make science have a more meaningful impact on our world. Make sure you vote on Nov. 6!

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