Last Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day! To honor the day we were joined by representatives from Jane Addams Senior Caucus to help some of our senior residents register to vote ahead of the midterm elections coming up on November 6, 2018.
We also learned a little more about some of the advocacy work that Jane Addams Senior Caucus is doing.
JASC is currently working on a number of affordable housing preservation campaigns as well as various other campaigns around housing and economic justice.
JASC is also working to pass the Jane Addams Senior Housing Bill of Rights, an ordinance that would ensure that seniors can age with dignity, regardless of their income or housing situation.
Older Adults Voting and Voting Barriers
Older Adults are an important voting block in the United States. According to AARP, 71% of adults over the age of 65 voted in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Despite the immense power and influence of this voting block, seniors face barriers on their way to the ballot box.
Strict voter ID laws in some states have presented a challenge for older adults who want to vote. Statistics show that roughly 40% of adults over the age of 50 in 34 states with voter ID laws in place have trouble voting because they lack the sufficient ID necessary for them to vote.
Individuals with lower incomes and African Americans are also statistically more likely to be disenfranchised as a result of strict voter ID laws.
Seniors also face difficulty physically accessing the polls. For seniors that don’t drive, getting to their polling place is a challenge. Furthermore, only 27% of polling places nationwide are fully accessible according to a 2013 GAO report. Polling places with narrow doorways and steps at their entry pose a major barrier to voters with disabilities.
Early Voting and Voting by Mail in Cook County
The State of Illinois is one of 18 states that does not require an ID to access the ballot box.
Illinois also offers residents the opportunity to register to vote on Election Day. In order to register to vote in Illinois you must live in the state at least 30 days before registering. To register, voters must bring two pieces of identification to their precinct, one of these two documents must have their current address.
Here in Chicago early voting kicked off on September 27th with the opening of an early voting site in the Loop at 175 W Washington St. On October 22nd early voting sites will open up across the City of Chicago in each ward as well as the rest of Cook County.
In addition to early voting, voting by mail is also an option for voters across Illinois, which can be a solution for those who may not be able to get to the polls on election day. To vote by mail you need to submit a request for a ballot then complete and send the ballot in. Requests for ballots must be received by the election authority by November 1, 2018. So far in Illinois, 52,000 people have already applied for mail in ballots.