2020 has arrived, and along with it comes another election year. As an assisted living community administrator, you’ll need to have a plan in place to help your residents exercise their right to vote. Residents living in an assisted living community may see voting as a daunting task. Some might worry about polling places and long lines, and others might even be unsure as to whether they’re still allowed to vote. Helping residents vote might seem tricky for your residents and your team, but we’ve got a variety of tips to help make the voting process a smooth one in your community.
Help Residents Register to Vote
When it comes to registering to vote, the two methods that are uniformly available are registering in person or through the mail. Only thirty states allow you to register to vote online. To find out if you can register online in your state, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Online Voter Registration page.
To register in person, you can research locations that are closest to your community that offer voter registration. Typically, a resident can register in person at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), public assistance agencies, or recruitment centers for the armed forces.
To register through the mail, you’ll typically have to fill out a National Mail Voter Registration (NMVR) form. You can find this online, or you might find a physical copy at a local public library or county clerk’s office. However, some states do have different requirements, and you’ll want to be aware of those before you mail in any forms. You can determine the specifics for your state and find more registration information through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Know What Your Residents Need to Vote
Depending on the state your community is in, a resident may need to show an ID in order to vote. On top of that, some states that require voter IDs only accept photo IDs. Don’t wait until Election Day to figure out if your residents need to show ID. You can determine your state’s voter ID laws by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Voter Identification Requirements and Voter ID Laws page.
Host Debate and Election Themed Events
Consider hosting different events for your residents to stay informed about the election and to educate themselves regarding candidates throughout the year. Maybe your activities or community life team can organize a time to watch a debate, followed by time for open political discussion among residents. Encourage residents to educate themselves on current events and issues. Post resident voting rights and other vital voting information in prominent locations throughout your community.
Distribute Sample Ballots
A simple Internet search can help you find a sample ballot to help your residents know exactly what to expect when Election Day arrives. Websites like Ballotpedia can show you exactly who will be on the ballot and other information based on your address.
Help Residents Get Absentee Ballots
Absentee voting is handled via a mail-in ballot before the actual Election Day. You can have an absentee ballot sent to you by visiting Vote.org. You can also see all of the absentee ballot rules that stand in your state. Certain states may require voters to supply an explanation for why they want to vote via absentee ballot.
Voters Who Need Assistance
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that special assistance be available for voters with disabilities or impairments. A voter can receive assistance if:
- They have trouble hearing and they need someone to use sign language or written notes.
- They have a vision impairment and they need a qualified reader, an audio recording, or a Braille ballot.
The ADA also allows voters with disabilities to decide whether or not they need assistance when voting, and if so, who will provide it. Voters have the right to choose someone working at the polling location, a friend or family member, or even a caregiver.
Provide Election Day Transportation
When Election Day is finally here, your residents should have options to get them to polling locations without added stress. Consider posting a sign-up sheet in advance so residents can express their interest in voting and you can get an idea of how many residents need transportation assistance. Then, determine the best method to get them to local polling places. Maybe the driver for your community could take 2-3 residents at a time, or maybe your community has a van or bus to transport a small group of residents together. If you don’t have a driver for your community, consider helping residents set up taxi service. Once you’ve got a plan in place, be sure to advertise your transportation opportunities throughout your community.
Remember that a principle of assisted living is helping residents maintain their independence. Assisting your residents with voting is a major step in helping them stay independent and have a voice regarding current affairs. Ultimately, helping your residents vote helps them remain a vital part of their community and their country.