Seyfarth Synopsis: Looking for ways to help seniors exercise their right to vote? Here are a few suggestions.
With the presidential election right around the corner, many people living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, or retirement communities may be wondering exactly how they can have their voices heard at the polls. Many senior citizens do not have the ability to drive to the polls and may find it difficult to participate in the political process because of various registration and identification requirements. Even though turnout rates for seniors have risen over the last decade, there is still much that senior facilities can do to ensure that their residents’ votes are counted.
According to The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, there are many things that facilities can do to help their residents exercise their right to vote including:
- Helping residents with voter registration
- Helping residents obtain absentee ballots
- Hosting debate watching events or political discussion groups
- Providing transportation to polling locations
- Familiarizing residents with the voting process
- Posting reminders around the facility regarding voting dates and deadlines
Another problem that many seniors face is obtaining knowledge of the voter identification requirements for their state. Most states require voters to show a non-expired state issued identification at polling locations. Oftentimes, once senior citizens stop driving they allow their driver’s licenses to expire. Facilities can assist their residents by helping them obtain state identification cards from the local Department of Motor Vehicles and hosting information sessions to inform residents about local voter ID requirements.
Along with informing residents about the voter ID laws in their state, it is important for new residents to know about any registration or address change deadlines. Many of these deadlines are fast approaching. Websites such as Vote.org provide easy-to-navigate charts that detail the requirements in each state.
Many organizations, such as AARP and National Consumer Voice, feature publications on their websites that that can be used by facilities to implement the practices mentioned above. The League of Women Voters also offers a hotline (1-800-OUR-VOTE) that can be called on election day to help anyone who experiences problems at the polling locations.