Improved Access for Voters with Disabilities

Sep 26, 2016

Staff Attorney for Disability Rights Iowa, Tai Tomasi.
Credit Rob Dillard

Iowa’s Secretary of State is reminding voters with disabilities there are methods in place to help them cast ballots. This applies to military veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, as well.

It’s estimated between six-and-ten percent of the 300,000 Iowans with disabilities vote. The percentage for the overall population may approach 70 for this year’s election.

Tai Tomasi is a staff attorney with Disability Rights Iowa. She’s also blind. She says technological advancements have improved her ability to go to the polls.

“Speech outputs and keypads make the process accessible for blind voters, like myself," she says. "Touch screens and speech make the process more accessible to those with cognitive or intellectual disabilities.”

Secretary of State Paul Pate says technology and changes at polling sites are making the election process more accessible.

Co-founder of Operationengage America, Lisa Naslund.
Credit Rob Dillard

The co-founder of the veterans support group Operation Engage America, Lisa Naslund, says her son, Dylan, returned from Iowa National Guard tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD.

“Dylan no longer liked crowds, always needing to know where the exits were." she says. "Dylan had a hard time focusing, always on edge. Dylan would be anxious, frustrated and feel anxiety over tasks that would require concentration.”

Naslund says a curbside voting initiative now offered by the Secretary of State would have made it possible for her son to vote.