After months of vigorous campaigning and debates, tomorrow will mark the 56th presidential election in U.S. history. Pew Research estimates that more than four million people have already cast their votes through absentee and mail-in ballots, and numbers for early voters are still coming in. But if you haven’t already voted, you still have time to make your voice heard!
Historically, the senior citizen population plays a very important role in determining our elected officials. According to Pew, members of the Greatest Generation (ages 71 and older) make up about 12 percent of the electorate. While 12 percent may seem like a small portion of the electorate, Pew identifies the senior citizen population as a group of consistent voters who make a significant impact on election outcomes.
Last month, we celebrated Residents’ Rights month – a time dedicated to the respect, dignity, choice, and self-determination guaranteed to each resident of long term care centers – and tomorrow’s presidential election is perfect time to reflect on our rights, not just as residents of long term care centers, but as American citizens.
As November 8th is fast upon us, it’s more important than ever that residents get to exercise their right to vote. Although long term care residents face unique challenges to cast a ballot, options are available to ensure that no resident is left without a voice. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that special services or assistance are made available to voters dealing with impairments or disabilities, and options may include mail-in voting, early voting, curbside voting, and sometimes even voting within the care center. While the opportunity for mail-in voting and early voting has passed, other resources are still available to make voting more convenient. For instance, seniors have the right to bring someone to the polls with them if they would like additional assistance.
For a user-friendly way to navigate the voting process or to learn about resources available at the polls, please visit: http://accessthevote.org/.
Whether you live in the community at large or in a long term care center, it’s always important to understand your rights. For those Floridians who live in long term care centers, federal law provides additional protections by requiring facilities to “promote and protect the rights of each resident.”
A resident’s knowledge and understanding of his or her rights is the ticket to the best possible quality of life. For more information on residents’ rights, visit: