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Tuesday, November 8th is Election Day and at Ohio Valley Goodwill, the organization has worked hard to provide information about the electoral process to its program participants over the past several months. Hosting a voter registration and education drive in partnership with the League of Women Voters in the early Fall, Goodwill has helped to provide information about the mechanics of voting for all citizens, in an educational and non-partisan fashion. In addition, Ohio Valley Goodwill was pleased to join with Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services (HCDDS) and the Center for Independent Living Options (CILO) on presenting an Election Forum in October of this year.
As voters who are choosing to exercise their right to vote for the first time, there may be some questions about the supports available to citizens with disabilities as they vote. The following information is included on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website but we wanted to share some important highlights:
Can I get help with my ballot at the voting booth?
Yes. If you need assistance because of your disability (for example, you are unable to read or to physically mark your ballot), you may bring someone with you to help you vote. You may ask anyone to help you vote, except your employer, an agent of your employer, an agent of your union, or a candidate on the ballot.
You also may ask for assistance from two precinct election officials from each of the major political parties. No one who helps you vote can tell you how you must vote or provide information to others about how you voted.
Is my voting location accessible for people with disabilities?
Voting locations must be free of barriers to enter and exit and must have ramps, wide doors, and accessible parking for people with disabilities. At any location that is exempt from accessibility requirements, curbside voting must be offered to people with disabilities who are unable to enter the polling location. That means two election officials from each of the major political parties will bring a ballot to the individual.
Also, voting machines must be accessible to people who are blind. If your voting location is not accessible, contact Disability Rights Ohio.
Am I allowed to vote even though I have a guardian?
Yes, having a guardian does not mean you cannot vote. Before your right to vote is taken away a probate court must declare that you are incompetent for voting purposes.
What are the different ways I can vote?
You can vote in person at your polling location between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. You need to make sure you are at the correct precinct and polling location, which is based on your current address; otherwise, your vote will not be counted. You should bring current and valid photo identification (driver’s license or state identification card) with you or a copy of a current utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, or government document (other than a notice from a county board of elections) that shows your name and current address. By law, a person with a disability can take as much time as needed to cast a ballot.
For more information about voting and your rights, please visit http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/voting-rights-faq
Please join Ohio Valley Goodwill in encouraging everyone to vote this election day.