Senior citizens took to the streets on the final day of registration on Tuesday before the general election to encourage new voter participation.
Members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, a community activist group, urged commuters to register to vote at the Fullerton, Belmont and Addison “El” stops.
Monika Kerr, 21, registered to vote at the Fullerton “El” stop.
“I really feel that we are the engineers of our future and if we don’t show our opinion, no one will see it,” she said.
Kerr thought it was passed the deadline to register but when she saw the Jane Addams Senior Caucus volunteers, she had to stop.
“I’m really grateful that the volunteers are here because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have registered today,” Kerr said.
Lori Clark, executive director for the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, said the upcoming election is a key factor in financial decisions made about healthcare and social security.
“What happens in the federal election trickles down to the state economy,” Clark said.
Emily Byrd, 76, a chairperson with the Caucus, explained the work that has gone into the voter registration program.
“We have been working on this since July,” Byrd said. “A dozen of our members went through training to become volunteer deputy registrars. We strongly believe in the need to be active at the local, state and national levels – the vote is our most precious weapon.”
Angie Supple, mother of two, was walking her children home from school when she passed the seniors.
“ I have the forms at home, but they said they would take the forms for me,” Supple said.
A hot issue in the 2012 election is the Affordable Care Act. The Obama campaign claims it will save Medicare participants $4,200 over 10 years, and it will be easier to qualify for Medicaid by 2014. Parts of the legislation already in effect require patients to be able to receive preventative care such as flu shots, colon cancer screenings and cholesterol checks without co-pay.
Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office if elected.
“Safety net programs like Social Security, housing, Medicare and Medicaid are at risk,” said Partricia Drennan, a volunteer for the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.
Clark said seniors are concerned about their benefits changing.
“These are the benefits that have allowed them to retire with dignity and independence,” she said. “This is a critical election. We want to ensure that social security, Medicare and Medicaid are here and continue to be here for our children.”
According to a summary by the Social Security Board of Trustees, the social security trust fund will run out by 2033 if nothing is done. Eventually tax income will only be sufficient to pay 75 percent of benefits through 2086.
“Sixty years from now we want to make sure this is there for you [the youth] too and that it’s decent benefits,” said Caucus member Gene Horcher.
This is the first time the Jane Addams Senior Caucus has targeted train stops. It hopes to register as many voters as possible in an election it considers critical to the future.
Trevor Greig, Karla Venegas, Tatiana Walk-Morris, Brian Tabick, Eva Quiñones and Brandon Kuesis contributed reporting.