Press release

ADA Fights for Right to Vote for People with Diabetes and Other Chronic Health Conditions During Pandemic

June 16, 2020 | Arlington, Virginia

In Wisconsin, the ADA’s “friend of the court” brief urges changes be made to give those with diabetes and other chronic conditions safer access to vote

On Monday, The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) filed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” brief in the federal court case Edwards et al. v. Vos et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging that key changes are needed to enable people with diabetes and other chronic diseases to vote safely in this year’s elections. Proceeding without these changes would violate the U.S. Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the lawsuit alleges.

In its brief, the ADA explained that people with diabetes are uniquely at risk by the coronavirus pandemic. Wisconsin allows anyone who is eligible to vote to cast their ballot by mail, but during the state’s primary election, many voters did not receive their absentee ballots. In its brief, the ADA argued that Wisconsin has an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that it makes voting accessible, which, during the pandemic, means that voters must be able to participate in the election without increasing their risk of contracting the virus. If they cannot vote by mail, people with diabetes should be able to access robust and reliable curbside voting, the brief noted.

“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. In the U.S., persons with underlying chronic conditions are at a significantly higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19 than persons without these conditions. For those under the age of 65, the presence of an underlying condition like diabetes nearly triples a person’s risk of hospitalization and nearly quintuples the risk of ICU admission. The growing body of medical literature 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).