Poor health — not aging itself — decreases older Americans’ likelihood of voting, a new study finds, but early and absentee voting can help people continue voting even when they experience health challenges.
Access to these options may particularly benefit wealthier voters, who readily transition to early or absentee ballots when they face health problems. Low-income Americans are the most likely to stop voting when they experience mental and physical health problems that keep them from the polls, even when alternative voting methods are available.
The findings come as many states are considering or have passed new voting restrictions following the rapid expansion of alternative voting methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020 presidential election.
Michal Engelman, PhD, Won-tak Joo, MA, Jason Fletcher, PhD, Barry Burden, PhD, Health, Wealth, and Voting Trajectories in Later Life, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2021;, gbab191, https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbab191