In a few weeks, we have a huge election in our country, and with COVID-19, there are a lot of uncertainties that are expected. Some people are thinking they will not vote and that is their opinion. With that being said, we are in a country where we are free to pick whoever we want and that’s so powerful because some countries don’t have the freedom to vote as we do.
In 2018, there were 61 million people who have a disability in the United States. That’s a lot and we need to be heard like other groups. So how do you vote when you have a disability? The information that is in this post is from a webinar that Equip for Equality in Illinois put on October 7, 2020. Equip for Equality is an organization that handles disability lawsuits in the United States and see the laws are being followed for people with disabilities.
First of all, I want to say that Equip for Equality did a really good job with their webinar and only gave facts not opinions. Like they said that this election will not be like any previous elections. Let’s talk about vote by mail. What does that mean? For some states like Illinois, it means that someone requests a ballot and the board of election sends you a ballot in the mail. You then fill it out and sign it with your signature. You can take it to the voting place on the election day, or mail it in, or take it to the board of election before the election day. They will make sure that your signature is the same as in prior years. If it is not the same, they will contact you to do it over.
In some states, they send ballots out to anybody who is registered to vote. This is why some people are trying to stop it. There is one main reason and that is the person might have moved or died, so anybody can fill it out and send it in. I don’t think that it requires a signature. You can see why an election can be rigged by this process. If you want to vote, you have to be registered first.
Let’s talk about how you can vote on election day and you are a person with a disability. First of all, the place must be accessible. I mean outside the building and inside as well. If it Is not accessible, you can tell the board of election and they must find you a place to vote. There must be a booth that is designed for wheelchairs. It has to be lower and has enough room to turn around. If you don’t see a booth that will work for you, you have the right to ask for accommodations and they must find something that works for you.
What if you need help in the booth, you can bring a friend with you or you can ask a voting judge to help you. One thing that I found interesting was you cannot bring your boss or a guardian in the booth with you. The reason is that you have to vote on your own and not have someone telling you who to vote for. Voting is your right to participate in and nobody has the right to make your vote one way or another.
Sometimes a person might feel uncomfortable asking for help with voting. I don’t know how I feel about that because voting is very important for me and I want my voting to be counted. I ask someone who I know a long time and has the same opinion as me. Well, this year some counties in Illinois, are allowing an electronic ballot to be sent to your email and you can fill it out on your computer and print it. You can take it to the voting place or mail it. If you are in Illinois and want to do it, you have to find out if your county does have this option. I would have tried this if I knew about it earlier because I have mailed my ballot in already.
There was a good question during the webinar, and it was - can you vote from your car? They did not know but probably not since the machine needs power.
I hope this post was helpful, but it would be too difficult to cover every state. Like I said earlier, every county has its own rules. Remember one thing - voting makes a difference so please use your rights and vote.