How Seniors Can Get Involved with the Midterm Elections
The midterm elections may seem like they’re far away on the horizon, but November will be here closer than you think. This year, the midterm elections are a particularly tenuous group, as Republicans only need to gain six seats and lose none for a swing in power to change everything. With seniors typically voting more regularly and consistently than their younger counterparts, they have a lot of say in how the elections will turn out. But voting isn’t the only way seniors can get involved, as there are plenty of other opportunities to make a contribution.
Get Out and Vote
We just mentioned that seniors are the demographic most likely to exercise their voting power, but that doesn’t mean 100% of them turn out to cast a vote on a ballot. Midterm elections are typically underperforming ones, with only about 40% of Americans heading out on voting day. The first step is making sure you’re registered to vote, which can be an incredibly important step if you’ve moved, particularly to a different state. As long as you do it before the last day to register to vote, you’ve got plenty of time to confirm your registration. One of the issues commonly facing seniors and voting is their physical ability to actually get out to a polling station. Some states have recognized that not everyone can make it to a booth on the day of the election, and have set up early voting, which provides you with an alternative. Lastly, most states will allow you to vote by absentee voting, which makes ballots available many weeks before the actual elections.
Become a Poll Worker
Instead of simply casting a ballot, seniors can take a very hands-on roll in the midterm elections by becoming poll workers, the temporary employees who ensure elections are carried out fairly and accurately. Seniors who take on this role will be in charge of setting up voting stations, greeting the voters, checking that their registration is valid, and then giving them the appropriate ballot(s). At the end of the day, when voting is over in their precinct, poll workers will officially close their station and either prepare all the materials for delivery or deliver it themselves, if they’re physically able to do so. If seniors want to still be involved but don’t want (or can’t handle) the responsibilities of being a poll worker, they can apply to be a poll assistant. If they choose to do this, some of the tasks they’ll be in charge of include being a translator, working at the election office before Election Day and the day of, and helping out with logistical support at the polling station. One of the tasks seniors can expect to do is telling voters what their correct polling booth is, if they’ve arrived at the wrong one. Lastly, seniors can also become poll watchers/monitors, which means they’re tasked with ensuring the voting process itself happens as it should. It’s important to note they won’t be connected to the official election office, but are there to act as their nonpartisan eyes and ears to ensure no voting fraud goes on. If they do see someone trying to vote fraudulently, then seniors will make a formal challenge. Whether seniors want to work as a poll worker, assistant or watcher/monitor, they have to make sure they’re registered voters in the precinct or county where they want to work. Then, they’d have to apply at their local election official’s office to see if they qualify, and attend a training session if they’ve been selected. The training session is only a couple hours long, which is more than manageable for seniors.
Volunteer at a Local Elections Office
If a particular candidate or party has caught your eye, volunteering to help with their campaign is a third fantastic way to get directly involved with the midterm elections. One thing candidates are always short on is extra help, and one thing seniors tend to have an abundance of is free time, which makes it a perfect marriage. Once you’ve made the call and expressed your interest in lending a hand, the next step is figuring out what you want your duties to be. Are you interesting in making calls and talking to citizens about who they’re going to vote for? Or would you rather go door-to-door and speak to people themselves? Perhaps you’d like to attend rallies and speeches, and help out behind the scenes there. Whatever your interests are, there’s room for them somewhere.