Voting: Encourage a generational difference

By Paul Graves
Reader Contributor

I offer a challenge to readers of the Reader: If you have adult children, grandchildren of voting age, or younger friends of voting age, please take this message seriously.  We have a chance to make a generational difference.

Paul Graves.

Here’s a round-figure illustration of what I mean: Bonner County has about 46,000 people (give or take). The percentage of people aged 65+ in Idaho is 16.3%. That’s close enough to our county’s older population percentage for this example. That means approximately 7,498 people in Bonner County are aged 65 and older — a significant number.

I don’t know how many of those persons voted in 2018, but 48.1% of eligible Idaho voters did vote. That suggests about 3,606 county residents aged 65+ voted. Again, a significant number.  

What if a majority of those people who voted intentionally urged their adult children or grandchildren (of voting age) to become registered voters and vote in the Nov. 3 General Election? That could mean 3,606 older adults could extend their own voting power beyond themselves.

When we talk with our children and vote-eligible grandchildren about voting, we exercise responsible citizenship by example and education. Wherever they live, they can vote. In Bonner County, we have only a few more days before Nov. 3. The time-urgency is upon us, folks.

My wife and I don’t have family here in Bonner County. Our son and family live in the Portland, Ore. area. I checked with them a few days ago about whether they had voted. Of the four votes in their family, two had mailed in their ballots and the other two were voting this week.  

Have you voted yet? Are you planning to vote?  

Or perhaps you are someone who believes your vote “doesn’t matter.” It does. Maybe it won’t look like it matters if a particular contest isn’t close. But consider this: If you don’t vote, you are basically giving some of your personal power over to “the masses.”  

I often find myself voting for persons who lose. Why do I vote? In part it’s because I want the winner to know that he or she has people who disagree with him/her — and they are part of those he/she also represents. It’s an accountability thing with me. My accountability to the election process, as well as the candidates’ accountability to the citizens.

Do you know someone from another generation who hasn’t voted yet? Can you encourage that person to consider voting in the next few days? Not haphazardly, but thoughtfully and informed.  You may make a bigger difference in that person’s life than you ever expected.

Friday, Oct. 30, is the last day we can vote in person at the Elections Office at the County Administration Building. They are open for voting 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (On Nov. 3, go to your regular polling place.) 

If you already have an absentee ballot but haven’t put it in the mail yet, consider bringing to the elections staff at the county building. You can actually give them your absentee ballot in return for an in-person ballot. The absentee ballot will then be voided. Doing it this way will guarantee you don’t take a chance on delayed mail service.  

And oh, did I mention? If you have a younger family member who hasn’t voted yet, invite them to join you. You can vote together. Whether you’re a veteran vote, a first-timer or an occasional voter, step up Oct. 30 — or Tuesday, Nov. 3 — and do yourself and a younger voter a patriotic favor.

Paul Graves, M.Div., is Lead Geezer-in-Training for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or [email protected].

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