In February 2016, Anita Johnson met a woman in Milwaukee fretting that, although she had voted faithfully for decades, she would be unable to cast a ballot in the presidential election. Her Wisconsin driver’s license was about to expire, and since she was 90 and no longer drove, she wouldn’t renew it. But she had heard about the state’s strict new voter ID law, requiring official photo identification. Without a license, she worried she was out of luck. Maybe not, said Ms. Johnson. The state coordinator for VoteRiders, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps citizens vote, Ms. Johnson pointed out that the state Department of Motor Vehicles could issue a photo ID. Poll workers would accept that as proof of identity. On the very last day the would-be voter had a valid license, Ms. Johnson drove her to the agency, which issued the necessary state card. So did she get to vote for president, at 91? “She did,” Ms. Johnson said. “I know, because I drove her to the polls.”
Older people vote. In last year’s presidential election, Census Bureau data show, about 64 percent of all adults had registered to vote and 56 percent reported voting.
But among those aged 65 to 74 years old, more than three-quarters had registered and 70 percent voted — a proportion that dropped only slightly in older cohorts. Even among people aged 85 and older, more than 60 percent cast ballots.
Still, we don’t make it easy for them. Physical barriers at polling places, a longtime obstacle for the elderly and disabled citizens of any age, can prevent older voters’ participation. Voting machines may not accommodate people who use wheelchairs or are visually impaired.