Why Older Citizens are More Likely to Vote

Retirees have valuable government benefits to protect.

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[See 10 Important Ages for Retirement Planning.]

Social norms. Senior citizens are more likely to be longtime residents of their communities, and may be influenced by friends and neighbors of the same age who are also voting. "With older folks, there is a norm to vote. They think of themselves as voters, and they care about being a voter," says Hersh. "People who are detached from the election system are perfectly willing to say they didn't vote."

Older people in some states are considerably more likely to vote than others. People age 65 and older are the most likely to vote in Washington (77 percent), Maine (76 percent), and Montana (75 percent). But even in the states with the lowest older voter turnout—Georgia, Virginia, and Indiana—more than half of citizens age 65 and older voted.

In terms of the actual number of older people who cast ballots, California tops the list with 2.4 million people age 65 and older who voted in 2010, followed by 1.7 million older voters in Florida and 1.4 million senior-citizen voters in New York. Texas and Pennsylvania also had more than a million older voters each in November 2010. Alaska, Wyoming, and the District of Colombia had the smallest number of senior-citizen voters, with less than 50,000 older residents voting in each place.