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Seniors Tend to View Voting as a Duty, Not Just a Right

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/seniorsten_7578.mp3

There’s been a lot of talk throughout the campaign about which candidates will support senior citizens. Even though oftentimes senior citizens seem to have a small voice in today’s world of politics, many are very active in the democratic process. KSMU’s Ryan Welch discusses some of the challenges that seniors face when trying to get out and vote.

Dorothy Knowles is the CEO of the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging, and she says the two biggest obstacles seniors face are the weather and transportation. But, she says there is always a way around these roadblocks.

“I know that if the older person feels they can’t get out, that they can easily get an absentee ballot sent to their home for them,” said Knowles.

One senior who drove himself to vote today is OD Smith, who is 88 years old. He lives with his wife at the Gardens Independent Living, and when asked why he votes, had this to say.

“Well, it goes way, way back. When I was a young man, I heard people talking about voting. Well, I wasn’t a young man, I was a child. And I thought it sounded like a good idea. And I was really anxious for the time to come when I could first vote,” said Smith.

Smith hasn’t missed voting during a single presidential election since he was old enough to vote, and only a very few non-presidential elections. That includes when he voted absentee while he was in the service during World War II.

When asked which election stood out most in his mind, Smith said it’s hard to choose.

“They’re all important. Every one. Normally we consider the presidential elections as more important, but I’m not sure they are or not,” said Smith.

Smith says he is sometimes disappointed in the low voter turnout, but encourages everyone to vote because it’s their duty.

Based on her experiences with seniors, Knowles agrees that seniors tend to have a different perspective on voting.

“I think that older people realize it is not just a right, it’s a responsibility. And they are going to do whatever they possibly can to make sure that they get out to vote,” said Knowles.

Knowles also says that because there are so many polling sites nestled in the communities of Springfield, it’s a blessing to not have to go very far in order to vote.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.