By guest blogger Carol A. Johnson, ELCA Coordinator, Disability Ministries, Grants and Schools
We are close to the national day designated to vote in the United States of America for our nation’s president and other congressional representatives in our state and our nation. Persons with disabilities take great pride in going to vote, but some do experience obstacles at the voting polls or even in registering and/or voting by mail.
Twenty five percent of American citizens are known to be living with a disability; another 25% of citizens are over the age of 60 and may benefit from talking with someone about when and how they plan to vote. While some may vote by mail, some may prefer to be out at the polls with other citizens – which is their right even if COVID-19 complicates this year’s national day of voting. As adults, they should be able to decide for themselves when and how they will vote.
Please consider being in dialogue with persons with disabilities about their desire to vote, about their opinions about those running for office, and consider asking what might make that day or even that week or month meaningful for them. Perhaps someone might like to go to polls when you do so that you might become more familiar with their experience. You may be surprised at the joy and independence felt despite any struggles.
We are a nation of many people who are more alike than different. Inviting someone and listening, rather than acting charitably, may be the best way for you to help someone living with a disability serve their country as a voter. Members with disabilities are your equals, your siblings in Christ, your neighbors – and are often impacted as much as yourself, if not more, by persons elected to serve as leaders of our country.
For more information and to get connected, visit ELCA.org/votes. Learn more about ELCA Disability Ministries from ELCA.org/our-work/congregations-and-synods/disability-ministry.