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Voting in a pandemic creates challenges for Americans with disabilities

Posted at 2:39 PM, Oct 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-10 18:47:13-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — For many Americans with disabilities, voting has been a longtime challenge, but now this pandemic has presented a whole new list of obstacles.

For people who use wheelchairs , voting in person can be a pretty daunting task. You'd have to be sure the polling place is wheel chair accessible. Then there's the issue of being able to reach or go into the booth, and now there's the risk of getting COVID-19.

According to data from Rutgers University, more than 38 million voting age Americans living with a disability. That's more than 16 percent the electorate.

Even mail- in voting can be a problem for people who are visually impaired. They often have to rely on someone else to read and fill out the ballot for them.

In a recent interview with Newsy, John Kalkanli expressed his concerns over voting, as a visually impaired voter.

"Even if I got assistance, how can I trust them? How can I make sure they filled out my ballot the way I wanted?" Kalkanli asked.

Advocates say change is underway, even in politics. The Biden campaign has built a disability coalition and the Trump administration has touted billions of dollars earmarked for vocational rehabilitation grants.

"Candidates are increasingly recognizing the importance of voters with disabilities and integrating that into their campaigns and their platforms," said Michelle Bishop, Voter Access and Engagement Manager for the National Disabilities Network. "We're moving in the right direction. It's more to me that we're just doing it very slowly."

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