Voting with vision loss can certainly present challenges, but that should never preclude you from exercising your right. Democracy is a serious business and we’ve seen, in many elections now, how every vote matters. All eligible voters should participate in the process, no excuses.
The way elections are run from state to state may vary, but the basic rules of voting are the same across America. You must be registered to vote in every state, except North Dakota. Voters with visual impairments should know there are several ways to get the job done, with relative ease.
1. Accessible voting machines.
Request an accessible voting machine at your polling place. It will enable you to vote independently, with enlarged text, or with an audio guide. There should be one accessible machine available in every polling place, with a person trained in its use, available to help you get started.
2. Vote by mail.
Absentee ballots are available in all 50 states and can be requested in advance online or by phone at your local Board of Elections. For many people with vision loss, this is the preferred method because it can be accomplished in the privacy of your home and returned by mail. Applications for absentee ballots must be submitted to the Board of Elections by Oct. 30.
3. Vote with assistance.
Joining a friend or family member, who can help you vote, is always a good option on Election Day.
Your polling place will also provide assistance in casting your vote and to ensure transparency, it is bipartisan in nature. With a designated Democrat on your left and a designated Republican on your right, the polling assistants will place your vote exactly as you indicate. This is actually a meaningful gesture for the country, a representation of how our political parties can work together for the common good.
Don’t give up your voice to vision loss.
About the Author
Dorrie Rush is a Visual Accessibility Expert and progressive proponent for Universal Access and Inclusive Design. She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.