COLUMBUS, Ga- Disabled voters often are overlooked on Election Day. But Muscogee County is taking extra steps to make sure that does not happen to the disabled community in the Columbus area. From voting machines that talk to the visually impaired to free rides for disabled persons, the non-profit group Access2independence and the Muscogee County Board of Elections want to be sure that everyone’s voice is heard loud and clear in the Election 2016.
Rashad Jones is visually-impaired. He’s testing a voting machine that allows the blind to vote—and with privacy. The screen remains blank while instructions come through the headphones, and a keypad is used to cast votes.
“It’s extremely helpful to be able to use that system because it allows people with visual impairments, visual disabilities, and others the opportunity to participate in the elections process independently, says Jones, a peer support specialist with Access2independence.
Rashad and his organization Access2independence are teaming up with the Muscogee County Board of Elections to make voting as painless as possible for the disabled.
“It’s something that we’ve had with the voting systems since 2001, but it’s not an option that’s utilized often. So we are excited to introduce, or reintroduce, this option,” says Nancy Boren, executive director of elections and registration.
“It’s so important to get our vote out there. With all the barriers that present, all the concerns that are going to happen with Medicare and Medicaid, voting is how to use your voice,” says Nichole Davis, executive director of Access2independence.
On Saturday, October 29, during early voting, Access2independence is providing for the disabled to early vote.
“This is election is a presidential election, so it’s pretty significant, and we would like to make sure our constituents and our fellow consumers and peers have the chance to get out and vote,” says Oree Crittenden, of Access2independence.
The money to fund the ride program on October 29 comes from grant money dispersed through the Georgia Council for Developmental Disabilities.
Access2independence is one of nine independent living centers for disabled persons in Georgia.
Access2independence is now scheduling rides for disabled voters who want to plan to early vote on Saturday, October 29.
To schedule a pick-up, you can call them at (706) 405-2393.