Cancer Votes: Making Cancer a Priority This Election
While ACS CAN is a nonpartisan organization, we have a unique opportunity to participate in the election cycle by educating the public and candidates about the actions federal and state lawmakers should take to make fighting cancer a national priority. We proudly call this program Cancer Votes. Cancer Votes raises the public profile of cancer issues by educating the public about candidates' positions on important policy issues that are part of ACS CAN's fight against cancer. ACS CAN does not advocate for or against the election of particular candidates or otherwise attempt to influence the outcome of any elections. This year, ACS CAN is engaging in 21 federal races and 32 state races each Cancer Votes program taking a different form depending on the state. A number of states, including Florida, have been able to get all major party gubernatorial candidates to fill in a candidate questionnaire that asks such questions as, Do you support increasing the state cigarette tax by one dollar per pack to reduce tobacco use, particularly among children, and fund critical health care and public health needs? These answers are published for voters' education. Through Cancer Votes, ACS CAN has also been the sponsor of a number of candidate forums and debates. On Oct. 15, we joined the University of Delaware in sponsoring U.S. Senate and House of Representatives debates, which C-SPAN broadcasted. ACS CAN staff in Montana also helped organize four state candidate forums in cities across the state (Missoula, Billings, Bozeman and Great Falls) featuring almost 50 candidates.
In other states ACS CAN staff and volunteers are canvassing and bird-dogging, a tactic where volunteers make their presence known at public candidate appearances. In New Hampshire, I was excited to learn that an ACS CAN volunteer was on TV asking candidates about access to health care during a Senate primary debate. Our folks in Massachusetts secured meetings with the campaigns of all four candidates for governor, building relationships early so we can be partners in the fight against cancer. And states like Illinois and Florida are dedicating days and weeks to Cancer Votes action making noise on social media, submitting letters to the editor to local papers and having a presence at sporting events and festivals.
More than half a million people in the United States will die from cancer this year alone, and every day our elected officials make decisions that affect cancer patients and their families. Cancer needs to be a part of the conversation this election season, and through the hard work of ACS CAN staff and volunteers across the country we're holding candidates accountable for their commitment to fighting cancer and ensuring Cancer Votes.
Check out www.cancervotes.org for more information.