As Massachusetts gets ready to decide if the state should regulate how many patients nurses see at a time, those on both sides of the Question 1 debate are working hard to get out the vote.
The ballot measure is one of the most contested issues on Tuesday's ballot. If it passes, it would set strict limits on how many patients a hospital can assign to a nurse. The nurse-staffing ratio would be between one and five, depending on the patient's condition.
The debate has left many in the healthcare industry divided and many voters still undecided. Most of the campaigning on both sides Monday was spent explaining what a lot voters still find confusing.
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The Massachusetts Nursing Association is advocating for the yes vote. Inside their Canton headquarters, nurses from Massachusetts to Alaska were on hand to help make signs and calls in the hours before the polls open. They say a yes vote will lead to better care and shorter hospital stays.
"This is about taking care of patients at the bedside," Donna Kelly-Williams, the president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, said. "This is a patient's bill and this about having nurses be able to care for their patients as safe as they possibly can when they're in the hospital."
On the other side, nurses from Tufts Medical Center spent their lunch breaks advocating for a no vote. They held up signs in downtown Boston, which is part of the visibility campaign they've been conducting for weeks leading up to the election. They told voters the rigid ratios will lead to major consequences.
"We've already got a severe nursing shortage," said Terry Hudson-Jinks, the chief nursing officer at Tufts. "That plus the cost, we believe that hospitals are going to close and services will be cut."
The cost depends on who you ask, but when asking the voters, a lot of what they heard was confusion.
"If the nurses can't decide, if they can't agree, then I don't know which way to go," Anna Waldron of Wakefield said.
"I don't know how I'm going to vote yet," Peter Nielsen of Boston added. "I'm going to re-read the material tonight and see what happens."
The effort to win over the votes will continue until the polls close, with both canvassing and planning to set up outside as many polling locations as possible. If Question 1 passes, the ratios would go into effect Jan. 1.
Last month, NBC10 Boston and necn presented a live debate on Question 1. Click here to watch it in full.