One in four people eligible to vote has a disability, according to Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC). The organization notes that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities, there would be 2.35 million more voters! When you vote, you help choose who will oversee your country, state and your city. Voting is how to make sure that the people in office support the rights and well-being of people with disabilities.
With the election underway and election day on November 3, here is what you need to know as you make your plan to vote.
According to DRNC, the top five issues facing people with disabilities as they vote are:
- Voters who live in facilities face strict limitations on who may provide necessary assistance to cast an absentee ballot. But there are resources to help. Learn more here.
- Having a Guardian doesn’t mean that you can’t vote. Voters with a Guardian may vote without the consent or assistance of their Guardian if they want.
- No one is entitled to tell you who to vote for.
- If you are voting in person you can ask anyone to help you if you need help casting your ballot. You can bring someone with you or even ask a poll worker to help you.
- If you vote in person and don’t want someone to help you, you can ask to use an accessible machine.Every poll site should have a machine available that makes voting more accessible for people with visual, literacy, and dexterity related needs.
At each election, according to DRNC, there are problems at poll sites that keep people with disabilities from being able to vote. Here are some common issues:
- Voters are unable to use the assistive technology that is present because poll workers either do not know how to work it or haven’t turned it on and prepared it for use.
- Poll workers believe that a voter with disabilities is being exploited and assume because of the severity of their disability they do not have the capacity to vote.
- Poll workers do not allow a person to vote based on assumptions about their disability.
- Poll workers ask people with disabilities to prove they have the capacity to vote, including asking them to demonstrate they can read and write.
What do you do if you encounter any of the above issues? Here’s some tips:
- If you have a problem voting in person, ask to speak with the chief judge on site. That person has the authority to grant you whatever accommodation you need.
- If the chief judge doesn't agree to your request contact your County Board of Elections, the State Board of Elections, and Disability Rights North Carolina or call their voter hotline at 1-888-WEVOTE2.
- Vote early! That way if you run into any trouble, you will have a chance to get it resolved in time for your vote to count.
Check out DRNC’s voting guide for the 2020 election.
Disability Rights North Carolina is a legal advocacy agency that fights for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina. Remember to keep their voter hotline phone number handy: 1-888-WEVOTE2. For additional information on your voting rights, please go to www.accessthevotenc.org.