Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Seniors and Voting
Brooke Zehr, Supportive Services Coordinator
Walker Meadow, River Grove
Click here to watch the WZZM13 Senior Wellness segment on this topic.
The older adult population accounts for a large portion of voters during elections.
There are an estimated 190,000 older adults in Western Michigan. That’s 190,000 eligible voters who can make a significant impact on elections. We have found that older adults trend to cast their ballots more often and in greater numbers than other age groups. Not only do they make up a large share of the voting population but they are also engaged in the political process and issues that directly impact them such as Social Security and Medicare. Another reason for the high number of older adult voters may be because they are less transient than younger people, remaining in the same area for decades and familiar where to vote in their hometown. Having experience many elections throughout their lifetime, older adults share a sense of civic duty and responsibility. Older adults whom are retired and/or are no longer raising families may have more available time to research the issues and vote.
The first and most important step is to find out if you are registered to vote.
You can do this by visiting www.michigan.gov/vote. Through this website you will also find your voting location & view your sample ballot. If you do not have access to the internet, you can also confirm your registration by calling the Michigan Department of State Information Center at 1-888-767-6424 or contact your local Secretary of State office. You must register at least 30 days before the election.
At the polls, a valid photo ID such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card is required. You do not need your voter registration card. As long as you are in the correct polling location, your name will appear on the registration list supplied to your precinct. The Voter Identification card is for your reference only.
Be aware that while some states allow all voters to cast ballots prior to Election Day, Michigan does not have early voting. Of course, qualified Michigan voters can cast absentee ballots prior to Election Day. Nursing home residents and older adults who cannot easily get outside the home have the same rights as all US citizens which includes the right to vote. However, these people sometimes have a harder time accessing voting locations. Absentee voter ballots are available for all elections. They provide voters with a convenient method for casting a ballot when they are unable to attend the polls on Election Day.
As a registered voter, you may obtain an absent voter ballot if you are:
- age 60 years old or older
- unable to vote without assistance at the polls
- expecting to be out of town on election day
- in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
- unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
- appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Michigan Absent Voter Ballot Application for the Aug. 2 Michigan State Primary and/or Nov. 8 Presidential General Election are now available online (also available in large print) www.michigan.gov/vote or through your county clerk’s office. Once completed, return the application to your local clerk either by mail or in person. This must be received by your clerk no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election.
Requests for absent voter ballots are processed immediately. Absent voter ballots may be issued to you at your home address or any address outside of your city or township of residence. After receiving your absent voter ballot, you have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to complete the ballot and return it to the clerk’s office.
More helpful information
One thing to note, citizens will notice a significant change on the ballots this year. In the past, a “straight ticket” covered all candidates in that party however the ‘PA 268’ of 2015 eliminated the straight-ticket voting option.
If you are looking to gather more information, Advocates for Senior Issues is a non-partisan association made up of local citizens and organizations interested in the concerns and well-being of older adults. They inform members and educate our legislators to effect local, state, and federal legislation concerning seniors. Meetings include legislators who speak on current events and answer questions from the group. They will be hosting a candidate forum in October 21st at 10:00 am hosted at Gerald R. Ford. They invited the candidates to speak for some of the positions that are turning over this year such as drain commissioner and prosecutor.
- August 2, 2016 Primary
- November 8, 2016 General Election, Michigan Polls open from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
General Election Registration Deadlines
- July 5, 2016 Last day to register for August primary
- Oct. 11, 2016 Last day to register for November general election
Voting is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in our country. All citizens are encouraged to participate regardless of their age or living situation. Do not let factors such as lack of transportation, illness or homebound status discourage you from casting your vote. If you are eligible to obtain an absent voter ballot and cannot attend the polls on Election Day, complete your absentee ballot application today and let your voice be heard!