Reflections on Election Day
Today was Election Day. It’s a hectic day for many Americans as they head to the polls, often times enduring long waits and heavy traffic to be able to cast their ballot. In previous elections, I have always considered the experience of voting to be rather simple. But today, as I headed to the polls, I considered what casting a ballot may be like for an individual who is a member of the culture of disabilities or an older American. Here are a few observations that I made.
First and foremost I considered that all individuals have the right to cast an absentee ballot. Therefore, no American is required to actually visit the polls to vote. That being said, I strongly believe that all Americans who wish to vote on Election Day at a physical polling location should be able to as long as reasonable accommodations can be made.
Secondly, I considered that in order to physically get to the polling location in my community, most individuals would have to drive or be driven. Therefore individuals who cannot find a ride or drive themselves would not be able to make it.
Thirdly, I noticed when pulling into the polling location there were signs directing voters to their precincts. If an individual could not see or read, these signs would be little to no help.
The parking lot at the polling location was not paved; it was all gravel, making using a wheelchair much more challenging. Also, I did not find any directions to handicapped parking.
When voters enter the building to cast their ballot, they are again divided by precinct. Large signs indicated what number the line was for, but without being able to see or read, these signs would be useless.
While waiting in line to vote, I noticed that there were dividers put up to keep the line orderly. These divisions were quite narrow and many larger individuals or individuals who used a cane or wheelchair may be unable to fit. Also individuals who have a helper with them would most likely be unable to stand abreast to their helper.
When I examined the ballot, I noticed how small the print was and that being able to successfully use a pen to fill in bubbles is required. An older adult with arthritis or another condition that makes manual dexterity tasks challenging could really struggle to fill in these bubbles. Also, anyone with poor eyesight could struggle to read the ballot. An individual without reading or comprehension skills may be unable to physically read the ballot.
As I cast my ballot and left the polling location, I could not help but think how much more challenging casting a ballot would be for those with disabilities. I realized while voting today, how much this course has broadened my thinking. The observations that I made today were not made for an assignment, they were just my thoughts as I was voting. I am thankful to be able to vote and I am also thankful for the education that I received which has broadened my perspective and understanding of the culture of disabilities.