Off-Year Elections: How Your Vote Influences Livability

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What is an off-year election? In the United States, that’s how we refer to a general election that does not include a presidential election or a midterm election for either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. What’s on the ballot? Generally, in an off-year election, you’ll find candidates for city and county offices as well as ballot measures (e.g., initiatives or referendums).

Do off-year elections matter to the Aging Network? You bet they do! Why? Because we need age-friendly communities, and local office is where the rubber meets the road.

The cities of Renton and Seattle are both members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. It means they’ve committed to becoming “more livable, and better able to support people of all ages, when local leaders commit to improving the quality of life for the very young, the very old, and everyone in between.”

Regardless of participation in the network, all of our suburban cities invest in programs and services for older people, as does King County. But there’s more to it—they invest in transportation and infrastructure improvements that make it easier for people of all ages to get where they need to go, in parks that make a more pleasant natural environment, in recreation and arts that increase social opportunities, in utilities and public safety that help keep us safe, and more. Your vote matters because, if we pay attention to which local candidates and ballot measures support livability, we increase opportunities for all people to age well.

What’s on the ballot in your particular area? If you live anywhere in Washington state, you can start at to receive personalized information—registration status, voters’ guide, ballot drop box and voting center locations, and even ballot status, once your ballot has been returned.

Assuming you are registered to vote, you will receive your ballot in the mail approximately three weeks prior to the Nov. 7 general election. This gives you plenty of time to complete and return your ballot, which you can do via a ballot drop-box or via USPS (return postage is free of charge). Your completed ballot must be dropped off or postmarked prior to the 8 p.m. deadline on election day. Read that as “don’t delay!”

Please vote in the upcoming election and ask everyone in your family to do the same. Talk with your friends and neighbors. Talk with everyone you know. Let them know that, particularly in the long run, livability depends on how people vote. Vote with the notion that every person in every community at every age deserves to age well.

Joe HaileyContributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (

This article originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of AgeWise King County.