Dee Ann Hart, Chair, advocacy and awareness committee
In 2018 our affiliate approved a resolution on accessible absentee/remote voting. In late March 2020, the Indiana Election Commission and other nominated officials called a sequence of emergency meetings to specifically address how to hold an effective election in unprecedented times. The most outspoken constituency group suggested all, without cause, Vote by Mail.
Seeing an opportunity for a marginalized constituency group perspective to be heard Barbara Salisbury and Dee Ann Hart worked together and with others in the ACBI community to build the context of the resolution to reject the flawed idea that Vote by Mail was an all-inclusive solution. We, the blindness community, like all others, have individual preferences to vote and that’s why we need choices.
The American Council of the Blind of Indiana’s resolution on accessible absentee/remote voting was not shelved. Election laws are forever on the lawmaking agenda. ACB-Indiana must be present and confident when our civil rights may be compromised. Two Senate Bills this session could have impeded future efforts to get the outcome desire from our resolution whether it was plea or prayer that killed the bill doesn’t matter. It is reassuring to know our opportunity to advocate won’t be denied. A high-class opportunity is fast approaching to present our resolution to elected officials ready to listen.
We have very quickly assembled a partnership with NFB and other disability organizations to pursue an option for remote or absentee voting that will allow more choices in casting your vote, and it could be implemented as soon as this year’s presidential election! This could present itself as an electronic process through a smart phone and computer; the story has yet to be fully told. We have met with, and are continuing to work with, our ACB advocacy director Clark Ratchfal, and other leaders throughout our ACB family.
Nearly one-hundred and fifty days have zoomed by swiftly in 2020. The Indiana General Assembly met for a short session. The bills are introduced, read, discussed then if in agreement passed along to eventually become legislation. Laws can be enacted immediately or on an extended timeline. In brief, our State and U.S. Senators and Representatives and many other chosen administrators expect to hear the voices of all Indiana citizens. Daily they conscientiously carry out decisions founded on guidance from activists raising understanding on individual and coordinated aspirations where the people express themselves with passion.
Never underestimate your voice in advocacy! We may need your voice as we move forward to work through the Secretary of State’s office and with other election officials. So, please sign up for the Indiana-L list for timely announcements, and stay tuned to our website.