Traditionally older Americans vote in larger percentages than the rest of the population. In fact, in the last 38 years, the 65-plus demographic averages a voting percentage of nearly 60 percent. In between the jabs and juvenile antics of the debates, we have not heard much about issues that impact seniors.
What are the candidates' positions on Social Security? Find out here.
On Medicare? Find out here.
Research for cures for Alzheimer's and other age-related illnesses? More here.
What are their plans for helping Americans pay for long-term care costs? It's limited!
Enabling the Vote
I researched the following while preparing for a TV segment about getting out the senior vote in the Charlotte area of North Carolina. And while there are specifics to North Carolina, there are takeaways for all voters.
- Check your state's voter ID requirements. A North Carolina law requiring photo IDs at the polls was struck down though you do need to provide identification when initially registering to vote.
- The absentee vote is the best way and recommended way to vote for someone who cannot get to the polls at all. Request a form from your Board of Elections. I have observed that many of my long-term care clients have been very diligent in assuring their residents obtain the ballots.
- If you can get to the polls, early voting might be best way to avoid the lines and commotion on Election Day.
What if a person has a disability but can still make it to the polls?
Contact your Board of Elections and ask them about the accessibility of your polling place or an early voting location. You have the right to request another permanent polling place in advance of the election if yours is inaccessible.
People who have visual, physical, cognitive, or mental disabilities have a right to vote, protected by federal and state law. A poll worker is not allowed to offer assistance -- you have to ask for it. You can ask for assistance from any person of your choice, except not an agent of your employer or union.
You can also remain in a car and vote from the curbside of the polling place if you would have difficulty going inside, due to your age or a physical disability. A poll worker will bring the ballot to you.
Get a ride to the polls.
There are people who have the ability and the desire to vote in person but may lack transportation. This is a very specific geographic issue so do some research to find out what services are available. An inquiry to Uber showed that they do not offer free assistance. Lyft did not respond to our requests.
For my North Carolina readers, here is what we found that can help.
- Mecklenburg County Coalition - Early Voting. Request transport using this online form.
- Go to NCVoter.org/rides and request a ride or call 888-482-7353.
- Democracy North Carolina and the Forward Together Movement -- "Souls to the Polls." Contact 1-888-OUR-VOTE.
- Ride to Vote NC.
If someone needs assistance with voting, say filling out their absentee ballot, who can help them?
They can choose whoever they want but it cannot be the owners and employees of a care facility, elected officials or candidates, and individuals holding office in a political party or organization or who are campaign managers or treasurers for a candidate of a political party.
Some states have mobile polling, also known as supervised absentee voting. These efforts are conducted in the residential facility, by bipartisan team of workers trained by local election officials. NC does not have this but with the growing numbers of seniors and senior facilities, probably should.
The older demographic is an important voting block and the issues facing older adults impact their younger family caregivers. Keep in mind that 25 percent of those caregivers are Millennials so older adult issues become everyone's issues.