Sunday, October 21, 2012

A law that potentially disenfranchises Americans with disabilities

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During this election season, we have all heard a lot about voter fraud and potential issues with new voter I.D. laws in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.  My friend Marion sent out an email highlighting an important aspect of this that I have seen mentioned nowhere else.  I can put it no better than he did, so here it is in his words with only the explanation that Marion has a disability that prevents him from getting a driver's license:

Hello to My Dear Friends, It has been a mighty long time since I've caught up with some of you. Forgive me? Here's hoping life treats you well. I'm forwarding a link to you but it won't be active for listening until Monday 10.22.12 at 5am in the morning. This link is a radio interview with me that airs at 6:30 am and 8:30 that same morning on WOSU NPR in Columbus, Ohio.

Here's the story. (Some of this may or may not be included in the story but I think you should know what happened to cause this.) The interview comes out of my experience with the new website for change of address on one's voter record. I'd sent a card weeks prior had not been processed and I was determined to vote in this election. I tried to use the website and was not able to change my address. I eventually learned the website was run by the Secretary of State's office. When I finally spoke with someone there they informed me that "According to Ohio State Law only those who have a driver's license and not the Ohio State issued photo ID card holders were allowed to access the online database". "The Driver's License number is the only way to connect an individual to an identity." They promised to provide me with the language of the law to support their statements. So, I called a couple radio stations, the police and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Of course, the police and the BMV both assured me other than the obvious (driving privilege) there was NO difference whatsoever between the two cards or their numbers. As for the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, (on and after the 9th) the response was lack luster. They left me feeling like they neither cared to fix the problems with their website nor about how my rights as a citizen had been violated.

That was inspirational and now this is my new personal cause. This kind of web based discrimination against disabled citizens doesn't need to happen. Please, just spread the word (forward this interview) as much as you deem fitting! This just might become a National conversation.

Today, builders (business, government, or public) cannot even start construction without proper access points and accommodations for people with disabilities as part of the blueprints. Should any government websites be allowed to block disabled citizens access? Just a thought.

Thank you,

This link to the interview will be active at 5am monday 10.22.12.

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