Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

July 28, 2013

Ed Hungness: Vote your voice

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.

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