April 9, 2021
Removing Barriers, One Vote at a Time
“My vote is my voice…and the voice of all who struggled so that I may have my voice.” – Lydia Obasi
The disability community in this country has a long history of advocating for change. From widescale protests to the simple act of asking for accommodations, people with disabilities have learned that advocacy is the key to creating a better world for themselves and others.
One of the best advocacy tools we have is our right to vote, but exercising that right hasn’t always been easy. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that voters with disabilities were granted the affirmative right to have necessary assistance in voting from a person of the voter’s choice. Since then, a number of pieces of legislations – including the Americans with Disabilities Act – have granted federal voting protections to those in the disability community.
While widespread accessibility in voting is becoming more commonplace, uncertainty about available accommodations can discourage those with disabilities from casting their votes. To help address this concern, The IC opened up its building as a Voter Polling and Service Center (VPSC) in last year’s general election. Because the building is fully accessible, The IC was able to accommodate people with all types of disabilities. Like other VPSCs in El Paso County, The IC had an ADA-accessible voting machine as well as an onsite ballot drop box. For those unable to make the trip – or uncomfortable doing so due to the pandemic – several of The IC’s staff volunteered their time to pick up completed ballots and deposit them in the drop box. In total, 300 people cast their votes at The IC.
“The Independence Center was thrilled to be able to serve our community by providing a fully accessible building for community members to exercise their vote,” said Deb Walker, The IC’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, who helped organize the effort. “As part of our commitment to civil rights for people with disabilities, we were proud to work with the County to ensure that all people can vote without barriers.”
To learn more about how to use self- and systems-advocacy to effect change in your own life, call The IC at 719-471-8181.