For the thirteenth time in my life, I will vote again this year to elect the President of the United States of America. I remember in in 1972 being forced to vote two weeks ahead of time by absentee ballot because my polling place was in accessible. I remember in 1992 being challenged at the poll because of my disability, and I remember the empowerment I felt by calling a state hotline while at the poll to “fix” the situation to my satisfaction.
Times have changed for people with disabilities in terms of voting ease. Now most polling places and polling booths are accessible, but this year COVID-19 is forcing many states to encourage voting by mail for everyone in many states. Yes, there are still barriers to voting—especially this year in other states, but there is no excuse for any person with a disability not to vote. Nothing about us without us, right?
But I want to talk again about something besides voting. I want to talk about people with disabilities getting involved with political campaigns. Of course, COVID-19 is preventing this kind of activity this year, but it is important to see how you can become involved through technology and Social Media.
I became involved with campaigns twice when I first starting out as a disability advocate. I worked on a statewide Republican campaign for governor and a county campaign for a Democrat. They both lost, and that may be a commentary of the type of person I support.
Nevertheless, these campaigns opened doors for me, and, more importantly, these candidates, their staffers and supporters gained a greater understanding of my needs as a person with a disability. This was a great asset in advocating on disability issues through these same people over the years.
The disability community has a saying: “Nothing about us without us!” It means that people, programs, agencies, and governments shouldn’t make decisions about people with disabilities without our involvement in the decision process. Well, the decision process for the 2020 elections is moving ahead on all levels of government. We need to be involved!
We need to VOTE on November 3!