How Five States are Helping Seniors Vote
Posted on October 25, 2016
Seniors are the most reliable voters during election
season. Their strong sense of civic duty and
passion for their causes are why they vote. Despite their dedication, it’s not always
easy for seniors to vote on election day.
Why Seniors Need Help for Elections
Certain obstacles can prevent seniors from
participating in an election. Some seniors have physical disabilities that make
it hard to travel to voting polls. Others don’t always have reliable
transportation on Election Day. Those with vision and writing problems find
it difficult to fill out the ballot. The actual act of voting seems to become
harder with age.
In addition to mobility issues, some
seniors may be discriminated against due to their age. Voter ID laws require
all registered voters to have a birth certificate or driver’s license. Many
seniors do not have a birth certificate because it was not the standard
practice during their time. Retired seniors who stopped driving are
unlikely to renew their driver’s license. And if their ID is expired, they
can't register to vote. These types of problems discourage many seniors from
going to the polls.
Luckily, some states are helping seniors get
out and vote. These states understand the value of engaging seniors in their
Here are five states that provide seniors with extra support during an
Minnesota ranks as the top state for
highest voter turnout rate. A staggering
85% of their 65 and older population voted in the 2012 election. Minnesota’s
government makes sure seniors are familiar with and included in the voting
process. They achieved this fantastic senior voter turnout two ways:
- Minnesota teaches
seniors how to use new voting machines. At state fairs, government officials teach
local seniors how to use the new voting machines. The state government
understands that new technology can be difficult to learn. Teaching seniors how
to use the machine makes them better prepared on Election Day.
- The city does not
require Voter ID registration. Older people without birth
certificates don't have to worry about securing one.
Wisconsin has a strong history in
political participation and competitive races during elections. Seniors in
Wisconsin take their civic duty seriously. They encourage and expect everyone
to vote. On top of their strong political culture, Wisconsin modified laws to
encourage senior participation and made improvements such as:
- Allowing same-day
registration for the election. This gives seniors the chance to register
and cast their ballot on the same day.
- Having open primaries. They don’t need to
register under specific parties. Seniors can participate and vote regardless of
Many politicians consider Vermont to be a
top state in political engagement. Despite this, voter turnout has decreased in
the past years. To improve voter turnout, Vermont has started newer
campaigns to target seniors. Each year, they review their voter laws to
avoid age discrimination. When the state goes above and beyond, their seniors
feel more welcomed and engaged in the election. Vermont did this two ways:
- Implementing mobile
In mobile polling, officials visit retirement homes for seniors to
vote on-site. They assist seniors with questions about the candidates, and
teach them how to fill out a ballot.
- Include seniors with
Unlike many states, Vermont does not prohibit voting for people with cognitive
disabilities. Since cognitive problems become more prominent with age, this law
does not discriminate against seniors.
Political engagement is high in Maine due
to its history of close and competitive races. In the past, Maine focused on
engaging young voters. Today, the state is making new strides to reach out
- For the
2016 election, Maine will host polling stations at schools. Placing the polls at
nearby, familiar places make it easy for their senior citizens to get out and
- Make the voting
experience relaxing. Maine
is offering chairs and water at polling stations for people to relax. Older
citizens won’t need to stand in the long lines.
In the nation,
Washington has one of the highest percentages of seniors requiring assisted
care. As a result, the state believes in making voting as accessible as
possible to all ages. Their government believes that civic duty to vote should
not be a struggle. Washington seniors are more likely to engage in elections
than seniors in other states. Washington did this a couple different ways:
- Washington state only implements a
This is beneficial to seniors, who may not be able to leave their home. Mail-in
ballots make it easy and convenient for everyone, especially seniors, to vote.
- If seniors want to register in-person, local
officials have arranged vans. These vans will take them to the county offices and help them
register. Even though online and mail in registration is available, Washington
understands it’s important to offer the complete experience.
Power to Seniors
The process of aging has
made it difficult for older adults to participate in elections. Reducing
barriers in the voting process will help seniors to vote. Seniors have always proven themselves to be
When states put in the effort to help older voters, seniors feel more valued. At
Alert1, we’d love to see other states follow in these five states’ footsteps
and encourage seniors voting.
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