Vicki Smith: Aiding disabled voters

November 8, 2012 

Aiding disabled voters

Thank you for the Election Day Point of View article by Jason Karlawish, M.D. (“Long-term care and dignified voting”). We are glad to see people are concerned about access to voting for people with disabilities. Disability Rights NC has been working, and will continue to work, to protect the votes of people with disabilities.

As the article notes, having mobile voting would be a useful option for those living in facilities. However, the article incorrectly stated that no one other than a near relative or guardian may witness an absentee ballot for an individual living in a long-term care facility. While the law restricts the ability to mark the voter’s absentee ballot or assist such a voter in marking an absentee ballot, there is no mention of witnessing. The inability to have anyone other than a near relative or guardian serve as a witness could disenfranchise many voters.

The fear of fraud must not trump the right of people with disabilities to vote. When elderly people are the victims of phone scams, we don’t take their phones away. If there are questions about exploitation of people with disabilities, the focus should remain on addressing the acts of wrongdoers while promoting accessible opportunities for all eligible citizens to vote.

Vicki Smith

Executive Director, Disability Rights NC

Raleigh

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