Today more than 800,000 people are living in assisted living facilities (ALFs) in our country. Think about that figure. It’s greater than the populations of Seattle, Denver or Washington, D.C. That’s a lot of people.
How many of these senior folks vote? In 2016, 61.4 percent of all those eligible to cast their votes actually took the trouble to do so. Less than two-thirds of eligible Americans bothered. The rest of us forfeited our privilege and let others decide who should run the country, state, city, and school board — and our lives.
Voting rates vary by age, and senior adults lead the way, with 70.9 percent of them voting in 2016, according to U.S. Census figures, nearly 10 percent higher than the rest of the population. But that gap might narrow this year at midterms and in 2020 if the drive to engage young voters continues its trajectory that began following the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Youth can lead the way, and that can’t help but make us more optimistic about our future.
We who are older have experienced more history. We have lived through more political leadership and more corruption, more wisdom and more folly, more greed and abuse and more enlightened decision-making. We’ve seen plenty, and we vote. But many of us who reside in ALFs can’t get around as easily as others, and the act of voting can be more of a challenge.
There is a way.
A large envelope lies next to my keyboard at this moment. It contains an absentee ballot. In a few days, my dear bride, who resides in an assisted living facility, will mark the enclosed ballot, witnessed by our daughter and me, then tuck it into that envelope, and we will mail it to our county’s board of elections.
Obtaining the absentee ballot was easy. A phone call to the county offices did the trick. I can’t help but wonder how many others will make the effort, how many families of ALF residents are making the effort to request absentee ballots for their loved ones and helping them to cast their votes. If this applies to you, do this. Please.
In today’s political climate, what could be more important?