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Senior citizens making their voices count at the polls during NC early voting

Early voting runs through Saturday, May 14. Election day is Tuesday, May 17.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Early voting for the North Carolina primary ends Saturday, and there are several key races that will determine who will be on the ballot in November’s general election.

About 30,000 people across Mecklenburg County are voting early in this primary election, including a group of seniors who shuttled to Charlotte Mecklenburg's Independence Regional Library together.

“Seniors always need support from someone who is young and energetic,” Thakor Topiwala, who is in his 80s, said.

According to Catawba college professor Michael Bitzer, early voting data in the North Carolina primary shows the average voter is about 64 years old. The generation casting the most ballots are the baby boomers who are around 57 to 75 years old. 

The full breakdown is as follows: 

  • Gen Z: 3%
  • Millennials: 7%
  • Gen X: 15%
  • Boomers: 53%
  • Greatest/silent: 22%

The Universal Institute for Successful Aging of Carolinas is making sure its seniors can get to voting sites. Nimish Bhatt is the director.

“Transportation and the traffic have become very rough and seniors don’t feel safe the in their age of 80s and 70s to cross the highway,” Bhatt said. “So, we try to make it safe for them to do their right.”

RELATED: How you can verify your vote counted in North Carolina

The nonprofit supports immigrants like Topiwala, from India who’s been an American citizen for about 40 years. He said he is proud to exercise his civic duty to vote.

“Any country you live there, ultimately you make that country your own home,” Topiwala said. "Then you become a citizen.”

There are several candidates for city council, county commission, and the U.S. Senate for voters to consider. 

“We need a government for the administration and we want to have some right candidates for the welfare of the people,” Topiwala said.

Many voters are keeping key issues in mind as they head to the polls.

“Housing…there’s no housing here,” Kirit Shukla, a senior voter, said. “So that is an important thing here and the second thing is transportation. So that is two main things.”

RELATED: Registered to vote in South Carolina? Deadline to register is this weekend

Proudly wearing his "I voted" sticker, Topiwala’s duty is complete.

“We do our best to put the right candidates in the administration with the best hope that they will do what they say,” he added.

Some COVID-19 precautions are still being taken with screen guards and hand sanitizer available on site. 

Registered voters have through Saturday, May 14, to vote early for the 2022 North Carolina primary election. There are 16 sites for people to cast their ballot at. The statewide primary election for North Carolina is set for Tuesday, May 17.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.