We want a private and independent vote too!

KAREN KOCH

Williamsport

While the right to vote has been given to Americans regardless of race, religion, gender, status and a host of other labels it is not a private and independent vote for all Americans.

While physical accessibility remains an issue at many polling places that is not the biggest issue facing the community of persons with a disability who vote. The training, or shall we say lack of training, that is given to poll workers for any type of accommodation is however a big issue.

In 2019 all 67 counties in our state will be getting new updated voting machines. New machines mean better technology and accessibility and new training. Please, don’t disregard topics such as turning on audio features, changing the print size, locating jacks and connecting headphones, and adjusting the height or keyboard/pad connectivity and use.

Many counties, including Lycoming, have yet to select the voting equipment that will soon be used in the 86 precincts served. I am asking that all people with disabilities, disability advocates, and supporters of Civil Rights, please contact your counties voters’ services about election accessibility. Make it known that accessibility cannot be compromised! Over and over we hear of poor election turn outs. Perhaps this is due to the barriers that still exist? Voting should be a positive experience for all that choose to participate!

Let’s make 2019 the year of new modern voting and let’s change “We want” to “We have” for Pennsylvanian voters with disabilities!

For more information on new machines, or to register to vote, please contact your local board of elections.

For assistance with registering to vote, please contact The Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania by calling 570-327-9070, or go online to www.cilncp.org.

(Karen Koch is a service provider for the Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania.)

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