Ohio’s absentee ballot system disenfranchises disabled voters. Let’s fix that before November.

A sign reading "POLLING PLACE" in English and Spanish, with a handicapped symbol

I was born with cerebral palsy — neurological damage from a lack of oxygen to the brain at birth. Each person with this condition is affected differently, and to varying degrees. Some may have balance issues; others may have mental impairments. For me and many others, cerebral palsy causes muscle spasticity. In my case, my muscles are so tight that my range of motion is very limited. Practically, the biggest impacts for me are not being able to walk without assistance, drive, or write legibly at all.

Despite these challenges, I have a high-paying, stable job in information security for one of the largest medical and pharmaceutical distributors in the world. I am acutely aware of two things: how critical our role is in ensuring that hospitals get the supplies they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how privileged I am to still be working during a time when most businesses have been required to close, leading to historic levels of unemployment.

I have lived in Ohio all my life. I have voted in person for nearly every election since I turned 18. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed lives around the world, and has caused many states to conduct voting almost entirely by mail, including Ohio. I have found that Ohio’s process for absentee voting is needlessly difficult or impossible for voters like me. Ohio’s Secretary of State has made exceptions so that people with disabilities are permitted to vote in person at their local county Board of Elections on voting day. However, they risk catching or spreading the virus that way. Some changes are needed to make Ohio’s elections better for everyone, regardless of ability or party affiliation.

Read moreOhio’s absentee ballot system disenfranchises disabled voters. Let’s fix that before November.

Stop the ADA Education and Reform Act

An image of handicap parking by Shawn Campbell

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (amended in 2008) is a bipartisan law that sets accessibility standards that businesses open to the public must follow, so that those with disabilities can work, shop, dine, and play just like any other citizens. Title III of the ADA requires basic necessities like ramps, handicap parking spaces, and doorways wide enough for a wheelchair. Even under current law, the accommodations must not place an “undue burden” on the business, and be “readily achievable“. In other words, the accommodations must be practical and affordable. As a result of 27 years of building access equality, these features have become so ubiquitous that it’s easy for anyone to take them for granted. However, the enforcement mechanism that has been in place for nearly three decades is now in jeopardy because of H.R.620 – The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Poe, Ted [R-TX-2].

Read moreStop the ADA Education and Reform Act