Absentee Voting and the Disabled:  Make your voice heard

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SCA Alumni column by Joshua M. Lewis


I just want to remind you to make sure your voice is heard in this fall’s election.  As a community, people with disabilities have a lot of power that isn’t often exercised.

For many, it is a logistical issue.  People with disabilities often have greater difficulties getting to their polling places and making certain that they are registered to vote, while others may have health concerns which are particularly acute in this age of pandemics.

This is particularly problematic if, for example, you were initially able to live on your own, but due to the economy or health issues, you have had to move in with loved ones.  This obviously means that you have to change your registration because of your new living address.

I come from a politically astute family.  My parents were teachers who taught for the St. Louis Board of Education, and what happened there would eventually trickle down to them. So like many in the teaching profession, they were very concerned with what was going on in city politics. They passed this love of civic engagement onto me at an early age.

We moved to the county while I was still a little kid.  When I got to middle school, the district decided to enact a ‘civic experiment.’ By allowing students at the middle school level to vote (unofficially, of course), the district aimed to help foster our sense of civic duty, of having our voices heard.

I’ll never forget that voting experience.  Here I was, 12-years-old, speaking my voice to the powers above.  Yes, I knew that it wasn’t an actual vote, but the sense of pride I felt once I dropped the ballot into the box is very difficult to put into words.

As a community, persons with disabilities are the largest minority group in this country, perhaps the world.  As a result, we are obligated to get out to vote so that our voices are heard loud and clear.

We each have issues that are vitally important to all of us, like healthcare, jobs — the social safety net being strengthened versus taken apart, brick by brick.  In order for those issues to be addressed, we must get out to vote.  But as mentioned earlier, in this age of pandemics, many of us have legitimate concerns about our health and getting out to exercise our voice.

The solution is to vote from home.  For those of us who are disabled, or care for someone with a disability, we must all apply for and obtain absentee ballots so that we can exercise our franchise from the safety of our homes.

We don’t need to sit or stand for long hours in line and worry whether or not we are placing ourselves at greater risk of catching the coronavirus.  Once we obtain the ballots, it is imperative that we complete them and send them in, particularly in light of the shenanigans that are being attempted in Washington, D.C.

I cannot stress this enough: Get your absentee ballots, complete them and submit them as soon as possible so you can have your voice heard.  Remember, we are powerful when we speak to those in power and tell them what matters to us.

Please vote!  Our lives depend on it!

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