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Election Day: Do Your Part

Go out and vote and help others do the same

Older Americans vote in greater numbers than younger age groups do, but overall voter turnout in U.S. elections is significantly lower than in other democracies.

The consequence of slim voter participation is elected officials who focus their energies on appealing to the narrow base of their parties — the people who reliably vote — and to major contributors. That's not a recipe for bipartisan cooperation and problem solving in Washington, D.C., or state legislatures.

Our Constitution offers us the right to choose those whose decisions affect nearly every aspect of our lives. Our elected officials will work as we wish only if voting is made easier and if more of us vote.

In my view, the best hope to assure that major issues such as health care and financial security in retirement will be addressed fairly and successfully is to achieve maximum voter participation.

But instead of seeing widespread enactment of measures that make registering and voting easier, we're seeing more efforts to erect barriers, such as the unreasonable voter-ID laws of more than two dozen states, often under the guise of needing to "eliminate voter fraud."

In plain English, that's baloney.

Voter fraud at neighborhood polling places is very rare. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice concluded: "It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than he will impersonate another voter at the polls."

I believe America should focus on reducing long lines for voting and on problems in the vote-counting process. AARP supports more voting machines in polling places and fewer restrictions on absentee voting.

You can help, too. Find just one eligible person who isn't registered to vote, help him or her register, and then vote together in November.

Have more time? Get trained and volunteer as an Election Day poll worker.

Whatever the obstacles, let's all work to get out the vote.

Jeannine English is the AARP president and chief volunteer spokesperson.

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