The Aging Majority
Voters age 65 and older represented a quarter of the national electorate in 2010, up from 21% four years earlier.
Changing election laws can potentially affect this group in several ways. New obstacles to the ballot box include: requiring voters to present unnecessary government-issued photo identification in order to vote; cutting early voting opportunities; and ending same-day voter registration.
Groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are heavily involved in lobbying and other activities to encourage seniors to vote and to advocate to minimize or eliminate some of these obstacles. They also have strong lobbying impact in local, state, and national government to make sure that the concerns of seniors are voiced and heard.
As a group, seniors control much of the U.S. population’s wealth, approximately two-thirds of the nation’s assets at the time of the last official count. This number is increasing as members of the “Greatest Generation,” “The Silent Generation,” and “The Baby Boomers” age, and in a decade or so will begin to be joined by “Generation X.”
The aging of these large cohorts and increasing lifespans means that voters over 65 continue to increase in number, wealth and political power. Issues such as Social Security and healthcare are of great concern to seniors and as such have become increasingly important in political life as well.
While there are legislative initiatives around the country that are designed to create barriers, many of which disproportionately affect youth and the aging population, organizations like AARP and NYRA have created political platforms on which their constituents are able to advocate their agendas. Young Americans in particular, even though they are not represented within the government, have the opportunity to be a major catalyst for social change.