October 22, 2020 | The Hill

Older adults deserve to vote too — here's the support they need

By Andrew Peterson, Jason Karlawish, and Emily Largent

In a democracy, voting is a most sacred right for adult citizens. It binds us together, not as partisans, but as Americans. In this upcoming presidential election, exercising this essential right will be more challenging than usual, especially for older adults.

COVID-19 has generated concerns about the health risks of in-person voting, and the process of mail-in voting – while common since the Civil War – has been politicized. The nearly 1.5 million older adults in long-term care facilities, and the 5 million older adults living with cognitive problems, are at particular risk of disenfranchisement. Older adults who are unable to physically visit a voting booth may need assistance in requesting and completing an absentee ballot. Meanwhile, with heightened concerns around voter fraud, some may think that older adults with cognitive problems should not be allowed to vote at all.  

We must address these challenges. The votes of older adults count just as much as the votes of others, and limiting their right to vote diminishes their dignity and their legal standing as U.S. citizens.

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