By Vanessa Ho
While other states are scrambling to make voting safe during the coronavirus crisis, Washington is ready with a secure system that lets voters cast their ballots from home.
County auditors are mailing ballots by Oct. 16 to all registered voters. AARP is encouraging people to register and vote early to reduce the chance of missing deadlines.
Along with the presidential race, voters will elect a governor and lieutenant governor, all 10 U.S. representatives and 123 state legislators.
Long-term care, access to telehealth services and increased availability of high-speed internet are some of the most important issues facing the state’s older residents.
“Make sure you’re registered to vote,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington’s advocacy director. “Make sure to mail in your vote. We want people to be counted.”
AARP is sponsoring two debates hosted by the Washington State Debate Coalition, a nonprofit service of Seattle CityClub, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and Thursday, Oct. 22. The debates will focus on statewide races.
Find details and sign up for the CityClub newsletter at seattlecityclub.org or call 206-682-7395.
MacCaul said voters should know the stance of candidates, including incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and his challenger, Loren Culp (R), on long-term care in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.
“The importance of a strong long-term care system is a paramount concern in the gubernatorial race,” she said.
Washington is facing a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall over the next three years because of lower tax revenue, prompting AARP to focus on preserving long-term care services with the state Department of Social and Health Services as an election issue.
The agency licenses nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but much of its long-term care system is based on home- and community-based services such as meal deliveries and caregivers. That helps low-income residents live at home and avoid the risk of coronavirus infection in facilities, MacCaul said.
“We’ve had numerous conversations with legislators who do not want to make cuts that would undermine the safety net for vulnerable older adults,” she said.
Vanessa Ho is a writer living in Seattle.
For more information on Washington's 2020 Election, visit www.aarp.org/WAvotes
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