CHEYENNE, Wyo. | By ERIC GALATAS, (Public News Service) – On Monday, the nation’s largest advocacy group for people age 50 and over launched a new voter mobilization campaign. AARP wants to ensure older Americans can vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic, and that local, state and federal candidates are listening to their top concerns.

Kate Sarosy is AARP Wyoming’s volunteer president and former mayor of Casper.

“The 50-plus voter, they vote in much higher percentages than any other age groups,” Sarosy said. “And candidates need to listen to what is important to the 50-plus, I think, in order to get elected.”

Sarosy said people age 50 and older want to see Social Security and Medicare strengthened and prescription drug prices lowered. At the state and local level, she said, top concerns include expanding broadband access for telehealth and making sure home services continue as state and local governments face budget cuts because of the oil and gas downturn and the pandemic’s economic fallout.

The Protect Voters 50+ campaign plans to publish and distribute customized, state-by-state information about safe voting options this fall. Sarosy believes absentee voting is likely to expand in Wyoming after Secretary of State Ed Buchanan sent letters inviting all registered voters to receive ballots at home.

She added with polling stations shifting during the pandemic, your county clerk is the best resource for information on where you can vote in person.

“The thing about voting this year is we want people to do it safely,” she said. “We want everyone to be able to vote and to do it safely, whether you do it at home or in person.”

Poll workers will receive masks and gloves and will use disinfectant wipes to frequently sanitize surfaces.

Sarosy said if past trends play out, the 50-plus vote will have a lot to do with deciding key races. In 2016 in Wyoming, 81% of registered voters between the age of 70 and 79 voted. In that same election, just over half of voters age 30-40, and only 34% of voters age 18-24, voted.

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Disclosure: AARP Wyoming contributes to Public News Service’s fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, Senior Issues.