One of the ways the Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) promotes independence and access for individuals with disabilities is by encouraging everyone to vote. Unfortunately, some in our community have become disillusioned by the wave of broken promises and dishonesty exhibited by some elected officials. Furthermore, they believe that some leaders care more about corporations, who pour money into their campaigns, rather then everyday individuals.
However, simply because corporations pour money into a candidate doesn’t mean that our vote doesn’t have power. If votes had no power, why are tough new voter laws being enacted in many parts of the country to restrict access to voting?
For many people with disabilities, there are barriers to voting such as inaccessible polling places. For instance, one polling place I saw was in a church basement with nine steps to climb down to get to the voting booth.
Fortunately, the State of California is working to ensure that all polling places are accessible to individuals with a variety of disabilities. With over 6,000 polling places in the state, locating and fixing all the barriers is a slow process. People can assist by calling their local registrar of voters and reporting polling places that have barriers. (Or, you can call me at the ILRC,  963-0595 x105.)
Barriers to voting must be removed to ensure that everyone has a say in the future of our city, county, state, and nation. However once Election Day is past, we can’t assume that the leaders we elected will makes the changes we want. Nor can we assume that the person we didn’t want to win won’t listen to us. Instead, we have to put pressure on these people to act in our best interests. Remember, in California we can always recall the leaders who are not doing an effective job.