No doubt, you have often heard this pious sounding advice: “You should register and vote…it’s your duty.” This is one piece of common wisdom that is quite true. Your vote does count, and if you do not use it, you are doing a disservice to your country and to yourself as well.
Around Election Day, you will see, hear and read a huge wave of political ads. They are produced by very professional marketers and aimed at getting you to support some candidate or to approve or disapprove of some question on the ballot. In a presidential election year, literally billions of dollars are spent on these ads. Even in off year elections, it is difficult to escape the flood of political ads that appear on television, radio, billboards and now, the internet.
Figure this out: the people who pay for those ads would not do so if they did not know that your vote is important! Obviously, it is important to them or they would not spend the massive amount of money involved in these campaigns. Despite this and the relative ease of voting in the United States, our nation has one of the lowest voter participation rates of any democracy in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, the United States has a lower voter turnout than 25 of the other democracies studied. Pew reported that in the 2012 election year, only 53.6% of voting age Americans actually cast a ballot. In Belgium’s 2014 election, 87.2% of that nations eligible voters participated.
We are often reminded of voting as being “our patriotic duty.” If this is not enough to motivate you, consider this: voting is in YOUR best interest. This is especially true if you are concerned with or thinking about assisted living, home health care or other senior life care issues. The people you elect are going to have a direct impact on many of the public policies that affect the availability and affordability of these and other senior services. The representatives that you send to your state legislature and to Congress vote on the laws that effect Social Security, Medicare and all other issues that are of special interest to seniors and their loved ones. If anything, those of us who are concerned with senior life issues have a larger personal stake in election results than most others have.
Many studies have found that seniors are more likely to vote than younger voters. Most seniors have a personal interest in policies that affect programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. A change in these programs would dramatically affect the lives of most retirees and their access to assisted living and home health services. Still, the percentage of seniors who register and vote could be improved.
If you are already registered to vote, make it a point to cast a ballot in your state’s primary elections (probably coming in the next few weeks or months) and in the general election of November. Find out about the candidates’ stands on issues that directly affect you. What do they think about funding for programs like Medicare, Veterans Benefits and Social Security? Their attitudes about these programs directly affect you!
If you are not registered to vote, find out how to register as quickly as possible. All states have periods when voter registration is “closed” for the next election. If you do not beat this deadline, you will not be allowed to vote in the November election, so get it done. You can get help from a number of sources: your local senior center, your county’s elections and voter supervisor office, the internet, and public libraries are all places that you can find help.
If you have mobility issues or cannot get to the polls for any other reason, find out about absentee voting in your state. Many states have special programs to help people with limited mobility to vote by absentee ballot. Each state has its own set of laws and rules about voting. If you are not already registered to vote in the state in which you reside, you can find information by running a Google search something like this: “Florida voting registration.”
Voting is your right, your patriotic duty and it is in your own interest! Register to vote, cast your ballot and help others to do so if you can. Give them a ride to the voter registration office or to the polls on Election Day. You are helping your country and yourself!