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By Herb Weiss, contributing writer on aging issues
In just 140 days, seniors will go to the polls to cast ballots for candidates who they believe will lead the nation in the right direction. Over three months ago, the Washington, DC based AARP, the nation’s largest senior advocacy group announced the kick-off of its Voter Engagement Campaign, designed to maximize the influence that older voters have on who controls the House and Senate. Whoever controls the majority of each chamber sets the legislative agenda for the next two years. So, it is appropriate that this election cycle’s theme is “Our Voices Decide.”
“As they do in every election cycle, voters 50-plus will decide who will hold power in state capitals and in Washington, DC in this year’s midterms,” says Khelan Bhatia, AARP’s director of voter engagement, in a March 1, 2022 blog article, “AARP Voter Engagement Campaign Underway,” penned by AARP’s Dena Brunis, who covers health care, health policy and Congress.
According to AARP, voters will be faced with new voting rules and may have to vote at a different polling place because of the results of the 2020 census that has led to redistricting for both state legislative and congressional districts in different states.
AARP’s Voter Engagement Campaign will also “remind candidates from both sides of the aisle that voters 50-plus are the most important and reliable voting bloc,” Bhatia says in the AARP Blog Posting, “Government and Elections.”
The blog post notes that the voter education campaign website is designed to serve as a one-stop portal for voters to get pertinent details and news about the upcoming election. This website will provide key dates of primaries along with individualized state election guides detailing methods and rules for voting at polling places for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island.
AARP will also disseminate voting information and poll results of 50-plus voters in key states through the AARP website, direct mail, email, social media and digital and radio advertising. The aging organization will also make sure that this information is also communicated with communities of color across the nation in multiple languages.
Finally, AARP will keep its 35 million members updated on all election issues and news, alerting them to local events, tele-town halls and candidate forums, too.
Taking a look at the upcoming Rhode Island gubernatorial primary
In less than 5 months, Rhode Islanders will go to the polls to elect the state’s next Governor for a 4-year term. Who that person will be and what they promise to deliver to benefit older Rhode Islanders is an essential question for the state’s 275,000 voters, ages 60 and older, says Executive Director, Bernie Beaudreau, of the Senator Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island (SACRI) in a statement announcing their gubernatorial forum on senior issues to take place in August.
Rhode Island seniors 60 and older represent 34% of all registered voters and accounted for 42% of the vote in the 2020 general election. Rhode Island seniors have higher voter participation rates than the rest of the population: 77% compared to 57% for voters under 60 years of age, he says, suggesting that this voting bloc can influence the primaries outcome.
Thank you to Home Care Assistance of RI for sponsoring our column on aging issues with Herb Weiss
SACRI announces the scheduling of a forum for the 2022 gubernatorial candidates to speak at on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at East Providence High School Auditorium, to address issues that will impact Rhode Island’s aging population.
SACRI’s co-sponsors, organizations that actively advocate on behalf of Rhode Island’s seniors, include:
Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter, A Community Together, Carelink, Community Provider Network of Rhode Island, Economic Progress Institute, Leading Age Rhode Island, NAACP Providence Branch, Ocean State Center for Independent Living, PACE, Rhode Island Assisted Living Association, RI Elder Info, Rhode Island Health Care Association, Rhode Island Organizing Project, Rhode Island Senior Centers Directors Association, SEIU Health Care 1199 and The Village Common of Rhode Island.
Beaudreau says that the candidates will be given questions in advance on aging issues impacting the Ocean State. Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer the questions, chosen in random order by a moderator. The questions will be asked by practitioners from each topic area and the candidates are expected to respond by presenting their own policy platform for addressing senior concerns.
According to Beaudreau, the forum’s overarching question is,What will our next governor do to ensure the well-being of seniors considering the forecasted population growth of older Rhode Islanders? Many more seniors will need services ranging from affordable housing, transportation, supports for aging at home, and long-term care, he said.
Seating for the forum is limited to 450 people, leaving space for social distancing in the high school’s new 900-seat capacity auditorium. The event will also be live-streamed for attending virtually. To register go to www.SeniorAgendaRI.org. RINewsToday is planning to attend to inform those who can’t attend in person.
Get the latest information on how to and where to cast your ballots at the upcoming mid-term elections. Go to www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2022/state-voting-guides.html
Here are some key senior issues that may well influence the upcoming mid-term elections. Go to www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2022/older-voters-midterm-issues.html.
Herb Weiss, LRI ’12 is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase Tasking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly or its sequel, Taking Charge: Vol 2 More Stories on Aging Boldly, both collections of articles of his weekly commentaries in the Pawtucket Times and Woonsocket Call, go to herbweiss.com.