By Joan Cronk
It appears that senior citizens take their voting rights seriously.
According to Pierce County records, in 2008 at least 79 percent of those 65 and older cast ballots, compared to an overall voter turnout of 52 percent.
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson said females over 55 are particularly good voters, and county elections supervisor Mike Rooney agrees.
“I would point to those voters who have seen the impacts of what voting does. They recognize the importance of voting,” he said.
“They just have more skin in the game, meaning in terms of paying taxes and understanding how they are raised and collected. They are more educated citizens and have more civic experience,” Anderson said.
Pierce County has been using all-mail ballots since 2010 and hasn’t had a polling-place election since the middle of 2010.
Anderson, who oversees elections in the county, said senior citizens tend to move a lot, so it is important that they keep the auditor’s office updated as to their current address.
“This is a time when they are downsizing and moving closer to their kids,” she said.
Eighty-nine year old Dixie Gatchel is a consistent voter and said her father was a great believer in the right to vote.
“He worked hard and grew up during the Depression,” she said.
Gatchel added she voted in her first presidential election when she was 21.
“I voted for Harry Truman and he is still a great ‘ol guy,” she said. “I grew up with no Social Security and no health insurance and no workman’s compensation. My first job was 35 cents an hour with no paid vacation and the little people had nothing at all. When FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) came along, we had lived through the Depression,” she said.
Ernie Bay, part of a group of seniors who sat down together recently for conversation, added that he was always interested in the issues and believes if you don’t vote, you get the consequences.
“I vote because I don’t want to be bossed around by the other bunch,” he said.
Anderson and Rooney stress the importance of being sure everyone signs their ballot with their every day signature.
“We call it the Piggly Wiggly signature,” said Anderson. “The one you use when you are checking out at the grocery line.”
For the general election hat concludes Nov. 5, ballots were mailed on Oct. 18. If a voter does not receive their ballot, they can call the auditor’s office at 253-798-8683.
There are 27 drop box sites for ballots across the county that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until 8 p.m. on Nov. 5. No stamp is required for a dropoff site.
If voters mail in their ballots, they should be certain to have them postmarked no later than 8 p.m. on election day, said Anderson. She added, “If you have made up your mind, vote early.”