Older voters are serious about it

It appears that senior citizens take their voting rights seriously.

According to Pierce County records, in 2008 at least 79 percent of those 65 and older cast ballots, compared to an overall voter turnout of 52 percent.

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson said that females over 55 are particularly good voters, and county election supervisor Mike Rooney agrees.

“I would point to those voters who have seen the impacts of what voting does. They recognize the importance of voting,” he said.

Anderson added, “They just have more skin in the game, meaning in terms of paying taxes and understanding how they are raised and collected. They are more educated citizens and have more civic experience.”

Pierce County has been using all-mail ballots since 2010 and hasn’t had a poling place election since the middle of 2010.

Anderson, who oversees the county’s elections, said that senior citizens tend to move a lot, and it is extremely important that voters keep the auditor’s office updated as to their current address.

“This is a time when they are downsizing and moving closer to their kids,” she said.

Eighty-nine year old Dixie Gatchel is a consistent voter and said her father was a great believer in the right to vote.

“He worked hard and grew up during the Depression,” she said.

Gatchel added that she voted in her first presidential election when she was 21.

“I voted for Harry Truman. I grew up with no Social Security and no health insurance and no workman’s compensation. My first job was 35 cents an hour with no paid vacation, and the little people had nothing at all. When FDR (President Franklin D. Roosevelt) came long, we had lived through the Depression,” she said.

Ernie Bay added that he was always interested in the issues and believes if you don’t vote, you get the consequences.

“I vote because I don’t want to be bossed around by the other bunch,” he said.

Anderson and Rooney stress the importance of being sure everyone signs their ballot with their everyday signature.

“We call it the Piggly Wiggly signature,” said Anderson. “The one you use when you are checking out at the grocery line.”

In the upcoming general election, ballots will be mailed on Oct. 18 by the auditor’s office to voters countywide. Non-registered voters need to be sure to register on line at www.vote.wa.gov or by mail by Oct. 7, officials said. The deadline for new voters to register in person only is Oct. 28.

If a voter doesn’t receive their ballot, they are encouraged to call the auditor’s office at 253-798-VOTE (8683).

There are 27 dropoff sites for ballots across the county that will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, which is the actual election day and the last day ballots can be turned in. No stamp is required for a dropoff site.

If voters mail in their ballots, they should be absolutely certain to have them postmarked no later than 8 p.m. on election day, said Anderson.

“If you have made up your mind, vote early,” she said.



Dixie Gatchel, 89, never misses an opportunity to exercise her right to vote. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)
Dixie Gatchel, 89, never misses an opportunity to exercise her right to vote. (Joan Cronk/Senior Scene)