CONTRIBUTORS

AARP Pennsylvania: Cut through the election noise with our voter resources

David Kalinoski
AARP Pennsylvania
On May 17, all Pennsylvanians will be voting for a new governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, and U.S representative.

AARP Pennsylvania recently joined officials in York County to make the case for voting, providing our members and all 50-plus voters information on how to vote, where to vote, and when to vote in the quickly approaching May 17 primary election. AARP Pennsylvania was joined by York President Commissioner Julie Wheeler in early May for a town hall discussion, answering questions from York County voters about Pennsylvania’s often-confusing primary season.

Since the 2020 election, Pennsylvania voters have been on a rollercoaster ride, often receiving conflicting information from voices in both Harrisburg and Washington. Do I have to show ID to vote? Can I still vote by mail? Will there be voter drop boxes in my community? If I am disabled, am I allowed to designate someone to drop off my ballot? What is the process for designating someone to be my agent? What does my designated agent need to know and do when serving in this role so my vote counts? These are just some of the questions we hear from older Pennsylvanians every day.

More:Lawmakers navigate Pennsylvania primary with unfamiliar maps

More:Pa. Election Day 2022: A complete guide to the May 17 primary

More:Why Pa. has closed primaries — and the push to change that

Americans 50-plus are our nation’s most powerful voters — and they will be the deciders in the 2022 elections. Turnout among Americans 50-plus has long been higher than for any other age group. In the last midterm election, in 2018, 56 percent of voters ages 45 to 59 and 66 percent of voters age 60 and older cast ballots. That compares to a 33 percent turnout among those ages 18 to 29. Election observers are saying that older Americans are expected to continue to turn out in greater numbers this election cycle than any other age group. The bottom line is that voters 50-plus are the most important voting bloc and are expected to be 60 percent or more of the electorate again this year.

AARP Pennsylvania is fighting for voters 50-plus to make their voices heard on the issues that matter. This election, voters report being worried about "pocketbook items" as every day they are confronted with higher prices for almost everything they’re buying. From gasoline and groceries, to prescription drugs and rent, people are struggling. This is their real-life experience every moment of every day. 

As they determine how, when and where to cast their vote, they are also looking at caregiving concerns, prescription drug costs, housing concerns, financial stability, taxes, health care and public health issues. These are among the items on the agenda as voters 50-plus vote and select who will be on the ballot this November for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate and Congress, along with state senate and representatives. Voter education and access have never been more important. AARP Pennsylvania wants to make certain that voters know the latest guidelines and requirements to make their voices heard and their votes count. 

AARP’s new statewide voter education campaign is focused on helping communities and all voters cut through the noise and avoid confusion when exercising their right to vote. The AARP Pennsylvania voter guide and other voter resources are available in English and Spanish. Our resources include information on how to register to vote, how to request a mail-in or absentee ballot, what options exist for returning a mail-in or absentee ballot, what is the process for persons with a disability to designate an agent to return their ballot for them, and what are the key deadlines for the 2022 elections, among other things. AARP has also rolled out a voter education messaging service that users can enroll in simply by texting “PAvotes” — or “PAvota” for Spanish-speaking voters — to 22777. We invite Pennsylvanians to use these materials and stay informed about upcoming elections

It’s a critical year, and there’s a lot at stake for older Pennsylvanians. AARP encourages every voter to check www.aarp.org/pavotes to learn more in preparation of for voting on May 17.

— David Kalinoski is the Associate State Director of Advocacy & Outreach for AARP Pennsylvania.