#AdvocacyMatters: Ballot Barriers

April 1, 2022 / #AdvocacyMatters

Our vision of a truly equitable society will only be possible when people with disabilities are in the rooms where decisions are being made… from the board room to the voting booth. This path towards equity can only carry forward once people with disabilities are afforded free and fair access to the electoral process. And yet as long as we’ve had elections, we’ve had barriers that – either by design or by chance – kept certain people from the polling place. No matter the circumstances or motivation, our way forward must see these barriers dismantled.

Last week, DRO team members spoke about election access at a virtual conference by The League of Women Voters. They shared that the issue surrounding ballot access wasn’t simply in the barriers preventing those with disabilities from voting, but also in the lack of communication and understanding what accommodations are available for those who need them. Curbside voting, remote ballot marking tools, and other accommodations have been expanded in recent years, though many Ohioans with disabilities are simply unaware of these opportunities.

Residents in nursing homes and other residential facilities can request their ballot be brought to them to vote, and there are even ways for people unexpectedly hospitalized before Election Day to request a ballot as well. “There’s a mechanism where you can request that boards of elections officials bring the ballot to you where you reside,” Legal Advocacy Director Kevin Truitt shared after the conference. “Not everyone knows that this option exists.”

Fair and free election access is at the core of our work, and our advocacy and outreach surrounding these issues will remain in focus. Leading up to any election, we’ll provide resources and information to help every Ohioan with a disability plan their vote… and when the polls open, our Election Day Hotline will be ready to answer your questions and check into your concerns. #AdvocacyMatters because a ballot not cast is a unique perspective silenced, and those are voices most needing uplifted.

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