Voting Equality

I love voting! I’ve been doing so since I turned eighteen.  I vote in every election rather it’s general, primary or special.

When I was younger, I would go to my polling location to cast my vote. It was just something about the hustle and bustle that got me hyped. To see all the people letting their voices be heard in hopes for a better tomorrow is very inspiring.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed, my patience is not what they used to be. Sometimes waiting in a long line in-order to vote just doesn’t float my boat anymore. Now, I vote absentee; it’s much easier for me.  Although I love voting absentee and have been for the past twelve or so years, one downfall I never liked is the need for assistance feeling out the ballot due to my physical disability.

When people have to help you do something, often they tend to put their two cents in about how they think, which includes; who they think you should vote for or levies and issues they think should or shouldn’t pass. I don’t think they mean any harm but it’s just a natural reaction. Voting is a private thing.  It should be kept to yourself unless you chose to share and most of all it’s a personal/civil right. Hate to admit it, but still in today’s society some view people with disabilities as children who are incapable of making their own voting decisions.

I’m excited for voting this year because I recently found out, while participating in the SABE GO VOTERS PROJECT through collaboration with Disability Rights Ohio, there’s a way I can mark my own absentee ballot independently!

Did you know one can request an electronic absentee ballot that will allow one to fill it out over the computer?

As far as Ohio goes, if you go to the state Secretary of State’s website, click on elections, voters, and then choose voters with disabilities, you’ll be at the electronic request form.  After skimming through, you should find a link for a form that states “Application for Absent Voter’s by Voter with a Disability & Request to Use Remote Ballot Marking System”. After clicking on the form, choose the button to send your ballot electronically, but make sure you enter your email address, and then you are ready to go. From there print and mail the completed form to the board of elections, then you’ll have to wait for an email with an absentee ballot attached to appear in your inbox so you can vote.

For individuals who are blind or visually impaired, the program that supplies the ballot is compatible with screen reading technology.

Now, I was hoping once the ballot was completed, one would have the accessibility of emailing it back but we haven’t got there yet. You’ll still have to print the form out and mail it back in. Your ballot is accompanied with two envelopes that has hole punches indicating where you sign. That’s another accommodation feature.

This may not be the perfect solution to my absentee dilemma but it sure will help. I can’t wait to cast my vote on November 5th.  I hope by sharing this information it helps others who are in the same predicament as me. Please pass this information along and if you want to vote absentee, you’re within the window to request one (ninety days before election) and you need to mail it three days prior to the election. Don’t forget, people with disabilities’ vote count too, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to let your voice be heard.

12 comments on “Voting Equality

  1. Dave Burrows on

    This is great information Shari. I have reached out to the head of Montgomery County board of elections to find out if there is a machine more fit for people who can’t stand up to vote. We as Americans take this for granted and we shouldn’t.
    Thank you for sharing this!

    • Shari Cooper on

      Great to hear you’ve reached out to Montgomery County Board of Elections to learn of accommodations. Please let me know if they do not respond. I have a contact that will get you answers.

  2. Diana Mairose on

    Shari you are a voting queen just like me. Thank you for all your help in spreading the word about voting. Go Vote and have your voices heard. I am happy we are friends.

    • Shari Cooper on

      Hey Diana,
      Yes, I’m a voting/dancing queen just like you! Can’t wait until our voters training next week so we can keep spreading the word on why it’s important for people with disabilities to vote.

  3. Mary Pfeil on

    Thanks for this educational piece, Shari! I had not heard about the availability of this electronic option. Finally! Many voters will definitely benefit. As for me, I enjoy going to the school on the next corner from my house to vote. After a poll worker slips the card into the voting machine I am independent in the process. I am also proud to show people at the polls that people with disabilities do vote!

  4. Jerome Haney on

    I have worked several precincts and have notice that there have been booths for Accessibility. I have always found that to be “joyful,” knowing that all can vote. I recall one year coming home from lunch and my late grandmother was coming in from voting. What rejoicing was on her face. Grandma was dressed as always, like a lady; you know, gloves, hat, purse, accessories. I recall that happy face. What I didn’t know was that was her first time in life. The Voting Rights Act had just been made know throughout this “land of the free, and home of the brave.” I made it a point in my life not to take this right for granted nor to ignore it. I have an adrenaline rush, every time I go, when I am not working them, and I make sure I am there early. “Early bird get the worms.” 🙂


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