I was disappointed but not surprised to read Glen Wesley’s letter to the editor on Nov. 21 about being denied the right to vote. The Advocacy Center has sought to protect the voting rights of people with disabilities for over a decade; too often, we hear about experiences like Mr. Wesley’s.
Both Louisiana and federal laws protect the right of people with disabilities to receive assistance in voting. In order to receive assistance, according to Louisiana law, voters must demonstrate proof of disability when registering or voting. Proof may be in the form of a doctor’s note, a Department of Motor Vehicles mobility impaired ID card, or evidence that the voter receives Social Security disability benefits, veterans’ disability benefits, paratransit services, benefits from the Office for Citizens With Developmental Disabilities or benefits from Louisiana Rehabilitation Services. Voters can do this on Election Day or in advance at the registrar of voters office. Poll workers should have explained to Mr. Wesley all the ways he could have demonstrated proof of disability.
Inconsistent enforcement of this law is an ongoing problem in Louisiana. It is not fair to voters with disabilities to change the rules on Election Day, and we have successfully advocated that voters be given time to comply with these requirements if they have previously voted with assistance. In most other states, people with disabilities are not required to show proof of disability when voting, avoiding this situation and ones where someone has a temporary disability and cannot vote without help.
Voters can call (800) 960-7705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for help with this issue or any other disability-related voting issue on major election dates.
Mr. Wesley is right. Voting is a sacred right for all citizens, including citizens with disabilities.
director of policy and planning, The Advocacy Center