Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images
En español | Between now and the November election, AARP is waging a multifaceted, multiplatform voter engagement campaign to make sure Americans age 50-plus can vote safely during this pandemic, however they decide to cast their ballot.
"We are going to spend a lot of time, state by state, making sure they understand the absentee ballot process – by mail or during early voting – and making sure they feel comfortable if they choose to vote in person on Election Day,” says John Hishta, AARP senior vice president for campaigns.
The campaign will also focus on the core issues that AARP members and the 50-plus population say are most important to them: protecting Social Security and Medicare, lowering prescription drug prices, keeping residents and staff of long-term care facilities safe, and helping Americans recover from the impact of the pandemic on the nation's economy.
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This is the first time, Hishta says, that AARP will concentrate on helping people understand some of the changes in the election process that are taking place in states because of the pandemic. “In many respects we're serving as a communications vehicle to make sure people know how to vote,” he says. “We want to make sure people know what to expect and when to expect it."
The 2020 campaign will be different from previous voter engagement efforts, Hishta says, because the focus of AARP's work will be virtual. “In year's past, we have communicated to the candidates and our members in a variety of ways, including in-person events,” Hishta says. “All of that is changed."
The key elements of AARP's voter-engagement campaign include:
- Individualized voter education pages with key dates, methods and rules for voting safely at polling places and at home for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The state guides will be featured in the September and October Bulletins and via aarp.org/election2020.
- A strong informational campaign that will combine safe voting tips and issue positions through direct mail, e-mail, social media, and digital and radio advertising.
- Polling of Americans age 50 and over in targeted battleground states (for both the presidential race and competitive U.S. Senate races) to highlight for candidates the importance of older voters and the issues they care about.
- A strong multicultural component to ensure that AARP communicates with communities of color across the country with issue information, advertising and social media.
- Experiments with virtual meet-ups to take the place of conventional town hall meetings during the COVID-19 crisis. AARP will ask candidates to appear on tele-town halls so members and 50-plus voters can get their questions answered and have virtual access to the politicians asking for their votes.