Braille Monitor                         November 2020

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Voting Privately and Independently Is for Blind Americans Too

One of the most cherished rights of being an American citizen is selecting those who will serve in our government. We do this through our vote, and because we are supposed to be able to cast it privately and independently, we can vote for whomever we wish without fear of repercussions. The right to vote privately and independently has long been taken for granted by eligible voters who can see, but extending this right to blind people has been slow in coming. Bringing someone to the polls with us to mark our ballot isn’t voting privately or independently. Being accompanied by a judge from each party isn’t voting privately and independently. A voting machine that offers text to speech represents a tremendous advance for those of us who go to the polls, but in the midst of this pandemic, a goodly number of us consider this to be much too dangerous. We wish to exercise our right to decide through the absentee ballot, but many states are not equipped to provide us with a way to do this privately and independently. The 2020 elections have shown us that there are far too many obstacles that stand between us and true voter equality, so it is clear that we have our work cut out for us long after the last ballot of 2020 has been cast. Are we up to the job? You bet we are. Let those who try to trivialize our right to vote privately and independently beware: when we secure that right, we will remember who helped, who remained silent, and who, through their silence, condoned the system that actively deprives blind people of a right that everyone else takes for granted. 

Immediate Past President Maurer participates in a protest of inaccessible voting procedures in Maryland.
Steve Booth demonstrated one of the accessible voting machines at the Jernigan Institute.

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