The Americans with Disability Act requires that every polling place in the United States be accessible to those with disabilities. In compliance with this legislation, there has been progress in making polling places more accessible to those with disabilities. Wheelchair ramps, changes to door handles, widened parking spots, and special computer programs have allowed those with disabilities to exercise their right to vote. However, one area that has not yet been tackled is how to give voting access to those who are unable to make it to the polling place or who will have difficulty in filling out their paper ballots.
Through the miracle of technology, the state of Oregon has decided to use the iPad to combat this social injustice. In this year’s primary election, election workers are traveling to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other locations with their iPads and their portable printers in tow. The voters at these locations will be able to fill out their ballot on the iPad, print it out using the portable printer, and send in their vote by mail. Although currently a pilot program, if this method of voting works well it will be continued in future elections.
In 2005, it was determined that of the 230,000 Americans of voting age with a disability, 119,000 are women. How many of these women were able to vote in the last election? The right to vote was fought for by many women for many years. It is an achievement that we are not utilizing to its fullest unless all women are voting.
One of the goals of Vision 2020 is to mobilize women in America to vote. In order to achieve this goal, we first need to understand why women are not voting. Is it because they are unable to travel to the polling places? Are they unable to fill out their ballots? Is voting accessibility an underlying cause?
While each and every woman has her own reason for voting or not voting, we can make it easier for her to vote by taking note of the progress made in Oregon.