By Sam Shumway
Kate Sarosy is the AARP Wyoming State President, but you may know her as the former mayor and city councilman in Casper. She says during her campaigns in the 2000’s it never occurred to her to specifically court the age 50+ vote.
She isn’t alone. While research tells us candidates tend to court young voters, older voters are deciding elections. According to US Census data, 90.5 percent of registered voters aged 50+ participated in the 2016 election. In Wyoming, the 50+ voter remains reliable. According to the Secretary of State, 81 percent of registered voters between 70-79 voted in 2016, while 76% of voters between 60-69 year olds cast a ballot. Compare that to 51 percent of registered voters between 30-40; and just 34 percent of voters age 18-24 in the same period.
If you’re a candidate and you’re spending a lot of time and resources trying to connect with 18-24 year-olds, you may want to reconsider your strategy.
To win in Wyoming, candidates must be able to speak to issues that matter to older voters. Some of those issues transcend generations: Wyoming’s economic challenges, the high cost of healthcare, COVID-19 response. However, others may be more of a concern to the 50+ voter like preventing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, protecting critical senior services, and this year, voting safely from home or in-person.
There are 83,000 AARP members in the State of Wyoming and around 260,000 registered voters. AARP Wyoming is non-partisan and non-profit. We don’t endorse candidates at any level, nor do we donate money to any campaigns.
Instead of telling our members who to vote for, we work to make sure our members know how and when they can vote. On that front, I want to take a moment to salute Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and his staff for sending information for absentee ballots to all voters in the state, and taking steps to make voting as safe as possible in Wyoming for those who wish to vote in-person. These are truly unique times we live in and the Secretary of State’s efforts to encourage participation in the electoral process has truly been yeoman’s work.
Despite some of the challenges presented in this 2020 election year, I’m confident that older voters in Wyoming, and across the country, will turn out. They will show up at the polling places, they will vote early, and they will vote safely. This year, as in past years, they will exercise that fundamental right that they hold so dear, and they will be the deciders.
Sam Shumway is the State Director of AARP Wyoming. Contact Shumway at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-432-5816.
Older Voters Decide Elections
By Tom Lacock , August 18, 2020 07:37 PM
By Sam Shumway