Good news and bad news about early voting

I’m blind, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires voting systems to provide independent and private voting for all voters — including those of us with disabilities.

In the past couple of elections, I’ve gone to my polling place on voting day expecting to use their touch screen machine with audio output to vote. With sound added to the ballot, I could put on headphones, listen to the choices, and punch a button on a special contraption connected to the keyboard. That is, if someone knew how to get the machine and the contraption to work. It isn’t exactly intuitive.

And really, the biggest glitch in audio voting comes right at the beginning. I sign in, and poll workers scramble. all of them seem to want to do right by me, but few of them know what “right” is. Where are the headphones? How do you start the talking machine? Why isn’t the audio working?

So this year, I decided to vote early. I could pick a day that worked best for transportation or personal assistance, and I could go to a polling place at a time that was less crowded, busy, or stressful. If there were any glitches, we’d have time to work them out.

Before I voted, I learned what candidates and issues are on the ballot in my area by linking to a League of Women Voters website. It provided personalized voter information after I entered my mailing address. I went to another site to find out when and where early voting is available in my area, called the poling place for walking directions and set off to vote alongside my Seeing Eye dog Whitney.

The bad news? There was an hour wait! The good news: A lot of people are voting! Whitney and I turned around and went back home — we’ll give it another try tomorrow.

Stay tuned for a future blog post with a list of hotlines you can call for assistance if you have any problems at the polling places voting in this election, and here’s hoping i don’t have to make use of any of those phone numbers when I try voting early again!


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