In today’s segment of So Engaged, we are joined by Reshma Mehta who is the Director of AARP Grassroots Advocacy.
After 15 years of working in Government and the non-profit sector, Reshma comments that the upcoming #USpresidentialelection is “like no other”. She says this year is especially different due to the number of people voting by mail, voting early and going through new voting procedures due to the pandemic. But she further explains that while it is uncomfortable for everyone, #AARP is working to ensure that voters have the ability to vote safely and are aware of their voting options.
AARP is a non-partisan organization focusing on issues affecting those over the age of fifty. For this election, AARP is doing a lot of voter engagement and education, aiming to inform voters, especially those aged 50 + of where candidates stand on issues important to the group – Medicare and social security.
Reshma makes sure to note that AARP – 1) does not take sides; 2) does not donate money; 3) does not endorse candidates or either party
Reshma underscores the fact that 50+ Asian voters are a powerhouse voter bloc. She explains that voter registration among eligible Asian voters actually increases with age. So, the 50+ cohort reliably shows up to vote. And interestingly, foreign-born Asians are more likely to vote than US born Asians.
Reshma shares that in total, AAPI voters are about 5% of electorate, or 11 million. They may seem smaller than other groups, but AAPI voters will play a very important role and could swing elections in key states like TX, CA, NJ, NY, NV, etc.
When asked about the issues driving the AAPI 50+ votes – Reshma says Social Security will be especially important in this era of economic uncertainty and time with such high unemployment; in addition to how Coronavirus will be addressed.
Reshma also emphasizes the importance of making a voting plan as a family. She says this will help voters who are considering the important issues that relate to their parents and children. And she further explains the 3 ways one can vote safely – – –
- ) VOTE FROM HOME. Check the deadline to request a ballot and where to return it on or before November 3.
- ) VOTE EARLY. Find the dates and locations for voting early in-person to avoid crowding and long lines.
- ) VOTE SAFE ON NOVEMBER 3. Check where to vote, as your usual polling place may not be open. Wear a mask, bring ID if required, and sanitize afterwards
Their website – aarp.org/election2020 – also has a lot of information about the election, including where candidate stand on certain issues.
Jannelle also asked Reshma to talk to people who are apprehensive about Absentee voting; and says, ” It is absolutely safe and reliable. And especially with the pandemic still going on, we need to make sure that everyone has a chance to vote safely and vote from home if they need to – from working parents, to family caregivers, to seniors in nursing homes. This isn’t a party politics thing. We are encouraging everyone to return their ballots as early as possible.”
“I would say, there are more than 116 million Americans age 50 and up whose views span the ideological spectrum. Older voters are NOT a lock for either party. They have a broad range of backgrounds and life experiences. One thing they have in common: they vote. Yet only 56% of AAPI voters voted in 2016. So your vote CAN make a huge impact and change the course of an election,” she adds.
Reshma and Jannelle also remind viewers that this election is not just electing a President – “also possibly their Governor, members of Congress, state representatives, and more. These elected officials will drive health and economic policies that could help or harm Asian and Pacific Islander Americans for years to come. Social Security, with over 65 million relying on these benefits, and Medicare, with 62 million Americans enrolled, are just two of the critical programs at stake this election,” she says.
When asked for her final message –
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in our lives, and many people are hurting. It’s more important than ever we pick leaders who care about the well-being of AAPI Americans and all Americans 50+. So, this fall, let’s exercise our freedom, participate in our democracy, and VOTE!”