Voting is a right given to citizens in the US 18 years and older. While it’s been a few years since I voted in my first election, the novelty hasn’t worn off. This election season, AARP launched a campaign to “Be the Difference,” encouraging us older Americans to get out and vote. It is a non-partisan effort to encourage all voters to get informed on the candidates and choose who will best represent them in office, and then show up to cast their votes.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out recently that older voters in Maine have a proud tradition of casting their ballots. In 2014, 68 percent of Mainers age 50-59 cast their votes; nationally voter turnout was less than 36 percent.

This is vitally important as many issues are up for debate after the next election. The fate of Medicare and Social Security will be decided by the next government. Programs that many seniors rely on to survive may be at risk.

Every year, more and more of the population joins the 50-plus club. We are living longer than ever before. We show up to the polls when it counts. The older Maine voter is a force not to be underestimated.

John LaPlante