Press release

American Diabetes Association Continues Fight for Rights of People with Diabetes to Vote Safely During Pandemic

July 7, 2020 | Arlington, Virginia

In Texas, the ADA’s “friend of the court” brief urges clarification for Texas voters with diabetes 
and other chronic conditions

On Monday, The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) filed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief in the federal court case Texas Democratic Party et al. v. Abbott et al. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, requesting clarification from the Court for voters with diabetes and other chronic diseases, so they may exercise their right to vote safely in this year’s elections. This brief is the second the ADA has filed in an effort to defend the rights of people with diabetes to vote without needless exposure during the coronavirus pandemic.

In its brief, the ADA explained that the coronavirus poses an increased risk of complications for people with diabetes. Texas allows certain voters to vote by mail, but only if they have a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of… injuring the voter's health.” The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that this provision does not allow those with a fear of contracting the coronavirus to vote by mail and the Texas Attorney General has issued public statements threatening criminal prosecution if voters misuse this provision. In response to these events, the ADA wrote to the Fifth Circuit to ask that it clarify that voters with diabetes have additional rights under federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, that allow voters to request reasonable modifications, such as voting by mail. 

“During this pandemic, people should not have to choose between their lives and their civic duty. For people with chronic health conditions, this choice is made even more difficult by the risks they face if they contract the coronavirus,” Tracey D. Brown, CEO and President of the ADA said. “Physically entering a polling booth could put them at great risk and failing to give people with diabetes a safe way to participate in elections would effectively disenfranchise many of the 122 million Americans living with diabetes and prediabetes.  We have a duty to protect them and give them the ability to vote safely.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, are at increased risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19. Recent CDC data concluded that COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions, such as diabetes, were six times more likely to be hospitalized and twelve times likelier to die. While we are still learning more as the pandemic progresses, the growing body of medical literature clearly depicts the serious reality that people with diabetes face if they contract the coronavirus.

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About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. More than 122 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For nearly 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).