Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 28, 2013

Ed Hungness: Vote your voice

Local columnist

---- — Being a citizen of the United States of America is a blessing. Violence which often turns deadly frequently runs rampant in the streets of less fortunate countries, prompted by people who want change. Whatever their wishes might be, they have few options except through demonstrations and civil disobedience to express their discontent. Thank goodness we have more peaceful methods of bringing about change.

In 1970, Congress passed the 26th Amendment which guarantees every citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age or older the right to vote in national, state and local elections. This Amendment was written in direct response to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War and was spurred by calls to lower the voting age to 18 so that draft-eligible men could voice their opinions on the war. After all, they were the ones fighting and dying by the thousands.

In the 2012 Presidential election, only 16 percent of eligible voters over 65 cast their ballots. In contrast, 38 percent of 45-64-year-olds, 27 percent of 30-44-year-olds and 19 percent of 18-29-year-olds visited their polling place. In that year, the 65+ group was 40.3 million strong and yet only 6.4 million voted. The math points out that there were 33.9 million seniors who did not participate in the election process.

Every year, thanks to the baby boomer generation and increased longevity, our ranks are growing. It is projected that by 2050, there will be 88.5 million seniors eligible to vote. This is a significant number for any aspiring politician to take into consideration. Talk about a lobby group.

Senior citizens have experience on their side, which contributes to their wisdom. We have observed what has worked and what hasn’t. We can better read between the lines of what candidates are promising, and we remember past promises broken. These are things the youth of America has yet to learn.

As seniors, it is our responsibility to pass the country on to the next generation and leave it to them in better condition than we found it. Through our sheer numbers, which are growing daily, we can make America a better place, but each one of us must vote.

Those that don’t participate sometimes have difficulty getting to the polls due to lack of available transportation or health issues. Everyone who is 60 years of age or older has the right to Absentee Voting. If registered to vote, one can complete a simple form available from their city, county or township. Prior to the election, an absentee ballot and return envelope will be mailed to the voter. They can experience a no-hassle voting process and avoid a trip to the voting booth on Election Day. Participants appreciate this service because their ballot arrives well in advance and allows time to carefully consider the candidates and their positions.

In the November election of 2014, the balance of power in our government hinges on the outcome. The senior population has the capability to effectively influence the results by voting. We can make a difference. I urge everyone of voting age not to be a bystander but a participant in the election process.

Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed’s retirement. He can be reached at or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633.