Voting safely during a pandemic is challenging enough, but what do you do if you're high risk for contracting the coronavirus and facing mobility and motor function challenges? While the 2020 election is now just days away, it’s more important than ever to understand your rights, the voting options available in your state, and make your plan to share your voice.
Whether voting by mail or in person, mobility challenges and loss of motor function can create specialized needs for people making it important to put together a voting plan. For example, people with ALS might need help with transportation to get to the polls or physically mark their ballot. These functional and mobility challenges are further compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently people with ALS who have lost motor function are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was enacted 30 years ago. That law includes provisions protecting the right to vote. “The government is not responsible for ushering and garnering you to vote,” Dara Baldwin, Director of National Policy for the Center for Disability Rights said during a recent appearance on Connecting ALS. “What they are responsible for is providing the services and tools for you to vote.” Dara suggests people with functional and mobility challenges caused by ALS should consider connecting with the disability rights community as another option to find resources to help make sure they get to cast their vote.
Lee Page, Senior Associate Advocacy Director for Paralyzed Veterans of America, suggested contacting your individual polling place to confirm processes that will be in place and accessibility needs, and even making a trial run if casting a ballot in person by visiting your voting location before you go to vote. More tips can be found on their website HERE.
In order to make sure people with ALS are able to exercise their right to vote, The ALS Association supports the Accessible Voting Act which would enact new federal accessibility requirements, improve access to online voter registration, make absentee balloting and in-person voting more accessible, and improve the availability of election information and voting resources. These changes would enhance the ability of people living with ALS and other disabilities to fully participate in this essential democratic process.
Voting is one of our most important civil rights, allowing all people the ability to weigh in about the issues that are most important to them and elect leaders who will fight for those issues. The CDC has published recommendations about protecting yourself and your family from the coronavirus while voting during the pandemic, and you can learn more about the voting options in your state at Vote.org.
To get help registering to vote or to find more information about voting in your state, you can call the Election Protection Hotline at 866.687.8683, or visit their website HERE.