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Voting with Vision Loss 2020

Sep 24, 2020

Voting with Vision Loss 2020

November 3, 2020, Election Day in the USA, is fast approaching! Because we are voting in a pandemic, more accessible voting options have been extended to all eligible voters. The expansion of early voting, and voting by absentee ballot, provides every voter with the opportunity to vote safely while minimizing the potential for crowding at polling venues. Voting requirements vary by state. The best way to confirm registration and mail-in deadlines, is to call your local Board of Elections office, or go to Can I Vote and select your state.

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 managed 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.

Vote Absentee Ballot

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 own home. The post office cannot guarantee the delivery of mailed ballots less than 2 weeks before the election, which means this process should be completed by the second week of October. Your ballot can be delivered by hand to the Board of Elections office or polling place during the early voting period or on Election Day.

Image shows voter placing ballot in box.

Image shows voter placing ballot in box.

Vote in Person with Assistance

In some states early voting has already begun, so grab your mask and join a trusted member of your pandemic pod for help casting your ballot. This is an option many visually impaired voters favor for the 2020 Election.

Although it is not totally clear how this next option will work under social distancing, usually, your polling place will also offer in person voting assistance. To ensure transparency, the assistance provided is bipartisan in nature. Your ballot will be marked as you wish, with the oversight of a designated Democrat on your left, and a designated Republican on your right. It’s actually a meaningful gesture for the country, a representation of how our political parties can work together for the common good.

Accessible Voting Machines

To vote in person, independently, ask for the accessible voting machine which enables your use of enlarged text, or an audible guide, to assist in marking your ballot. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires one accessible ballot marking device, and a person trained in its use, be available in every polling location.

Giving up your vote is never a good option.

For comments, questions or feedback, email us, or connect on Facebook or Twitter. We would love to hear from you!


About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

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.

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