Voting as a blind or visually impaired person.

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween. We are roaring towards Thanksgiving and Christmas at a breakneck pace. What I would like to talk about today is not the holiday season thought, I would like to talk about taking the time to vote tomorrow. This is an inherently non-political blog so don’t expect me to tell you who to vote for, instead let’s talk about the act of voting as a visually impaired person. 

Obstacles

No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, one constant for my readers remains the same – the concern over the act of voting. There is always a bit of concern, when you go to the polling station and ask for help, how do you really know that the person you are getting aid from doesn’t have an agenda and will purposely mismark your vote to their ideal? Many visually impaired and blind people I know don’t even bother to take the time to vote in person for this very suspicion. I think this is a valid concern at any time, but especially during this election cycle with the rampant divide we have in our country. 

The answer to the question for now becomes trust. If you don’t have someone you can trust to go with you to the polling station, then you just must trust in the credibility of the people volunteering at the voting stations. Because the states are responsible for the way voting is handed in each district, it is difficult to create a cohesive plan for making the act of voting more accessible to the blind and visually impaired.  

Added to the suspicion that your vote might not be recorded as you request, are the concerns over COVID-19. We have all lived this new normal for a while now and I am sure I don’t need to remind you to bring your hand sanitizer and wear your mask. If you are a guide dog user like I am, make sure that you have some sort of sign attached to your dog dissuading people from petting him or her which will reduce your potential exposure. You might be waiting in lines so be sure to bring yourself and your guide a snack and a drink. 

Make your voice heard

Regardless of your political affiliation, take the time to get out and make your voice heard. We get the governmental representation we deserve. If you don’t like the sitting administration, then you have the right to volunteer to make a change. If you vote tomorrow and things don’t go the way you expected them to, then at least you took the time to let your voice be heard. 

Moving forward

Voting is a lot like daylight savings time.  Twice a year, we complain about daylight savings time and say we should do something about it. We suck it up and have a week of terrible sleep, then things go back to normal until the springtime when we must go through it again and complain all over. Voting is similar, there are a ton of things that can be done to change the next voting cycle for the better in terms of accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, but by the time the presidential election cycle is over the last thing we want to think about is dealing with issues around voting. This election cycle has been the longest in history and if you are anything like me, there is a lot of fatigue. When this is all over, we should all take the time to start calling our local representatives and start working toward making voting more accessible. If we can’t fix the national issues, perhaps we can make local troubles better. If that doesn’t work and the voting process just can’t be changed on a national level, then perhaps we can build a group of volunteers that can be trusted to go with those who don’t have someone in their lives to help out. Maybe a smaller step like this could help to bring change to a system that is not accessible by nature (in most areas).

Get out there

It is too late to make any tangible changes to the voting system for this election cycle but let’s get together and start working toward the 2022 elections. If we work in steps, then maybe the 2024 presidential election cycle can be a bit (or a lot) more accessible.   For now, take a deep breath, and do your duty and let your voice be heard!


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