State agency helps make voting accessible to people with disabilities ahead of primaries : Kauai Now : Kauai News & Information

With mail-in ballots for the 2022 primary elections now being accepted, the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, or HDRC, reminds the public of its commitment to ensuring that Hawaiian residents with disabilities can vote.

HDRC, the state advocacy agency for persons with disabilities, emphasized in an Aug. 3 press release its mantra, “Every vote counts!” to include people with disabilities. The agency provides free counseling and assistance to Hawaiian residents with physical or mental disabilities who wish to vote in the 2022 election.

“We hope people with disabilities will consider the options available to them, because every vote really matters, especially in tight races,” said CRDH Executive Director Louis Erteschik.

HDRC Director of Operations Michael Rabanal added that staff can be an ally for someone who may want to vote but just doesn’t feel comfortable navigating the process on their own due to their disability. .

While voter service centers are able to provide physically accessible voting machines while protecting voter privacy, the HDRC stresses that resources are in place to assist voters who may not be able to use the standard system. Rabanal said visually impaired or blind voters might not be able to read the ballot, but voting machines are equipped with audible ballots.

“Other voters are in wheelchairs or have limited mobility,” he added.

Completed alternate format ballots may also be returned electronically to the county elections office or via the ballot return envelope included in the mail-in ballot package. HDRC’s team of nine advocates can help you register to vote, explain how to vote with accommodations, or address any concerns you encounter at a voter service center.

And while voter service centers are in short supply across the state, the advocacy agency recommends voting early. If you prefer to vote in person, the HDRC points out that all voter service centers are open for voting two full weeks before each election.

Ballot boxes must be accessible, and voter service centers offer same-day registration, accessible in-person voting, and ballot collection. The centers are equipped with accessible ballot marking devices, the Verity Touch Writer, which can then be printed and cast like any other ballot. The primary election will be on August 13 and the general election will be on November 8.

Hawaii Disability Rights Center is a Hawaiian nonprofit corporation founded in July 1977 primarily to protect and secure the human, civil, and legal rights of people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and other disabilities of all ages in the state . For information or assistance with voting in the state, people with disabilities can click here.

For any questions or concerns, call the Honolulu office of the HDRC toll-free at 800-882-1057 or email them directly at [email protected]

Amanda Kurt

Amanda lives in Hanapēpē. She has loved newspapers and journalism since she was 12 years old. She attended the University of Oregon where she earned a degree in journalism. She interned at the Hermiston Herald. She has been a Kauai Now contributor since June 2022.
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