As activists fight voter suppression, they may need to concentrate their efforts on protecting seniors who try to cast their ballots. Resistance against older voters could increase in light of recent polls and incidents.
A bus with about 40 Black seniors had to turn back from going to a polling site in Louisville, Georgia on Monday (Oct. 15), the first day of the state’s early voting period. Black Voters Matter, the activist group that organized the trip, believed the group was targeted in a “live voter suppression” effort. An unknown person had called the Jefferson county commissioner’s office and told them the bus didn’t have the proper registration to take the voters to the polls, Think Progress reported.
“This is voter suppression, Southern style,” LaTosha Brown, a Black Voters Matter co-founder, said. “I’m very upset. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’ve got a lot of emotions right now.”
Seniors not only have to put up with voter suppression, but also with pushback from the GOP. The demographic has had a changing attitude about voting for Republicans—with many choosing to support Democrats this midterm election year, according to several new polls. Registered voters who are 65 years of age and older preferred Democratic congressional candidates to Republicans by margins of 20 and 16 percentage points, respectively, surveys conducted by CNN in August and last month found. Voters age 60 or older favored Democratic congressional candidates by a 15-point margin, according to a national poll by Marist College.
Republicans had solid backing from seniors during the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, in which they regained control of the House and Senate. They also may have benefited from a lower Black voter turnout rate in 2016: 59.6 percent of African-American voters were at the polls as compared to a record-high 66.6 percent in 2012, according to the Pew Center For Research. A higher Black voter turnout, including more Black seniors, could have prompted different results in the 2016 presidential election.
Additionally, seniors typically turn out at the polls at a higher number than other age groups. The 2016 election brought 68.7 percent of Baby Boomers out to vote, as compared to 62.6 Generation Xers and 50.8 millennials, respectively, according to the Pew Center. Seniors, including African-Americans, could face blocks when it comes to the ballots because they generally have a stronger presence at the polls than other age groups and may overwhelmingly vote Democrat in a year that the GOP is fighting to stay in control of Congress.