A Lyft to the Polls
We've certainly come a long way, but voting still isn’t completely free of barriers for blind people. One such barrier can be transportation to the polling place. This can be a particularly troublesome issue for people who live in cities or rural areas that don’t have adequate public transportation. That’s why this year the National Federation of the Blind is pleased to partner with Lyft, the makers of the popular ride-hailing app, to help blind voters get to the polls.
Lyft has generously provided our national headquarters with a number of promotion codes, worth $15 each, which are being distributed through eleven of our affiliates: Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you feel that you could benefit from one of these codes, and you live in one of these states, contact your affiliate president. If you’re not sure who to contact or how to reach them, here’s a complete list of our affiliates and their leaders. If your state isn’t listed, you can ask your president about participating in the program, as affiliate presidents will still be able to request codes until we run out.
You can share your experience getting to the polls with Lyft on social media by using the hashtag #TheRideToVote, and tagging @NFB_Voice and @Lyft.
In addition to transportation, other barriers to the blind being able to vote privately and independently can include machines that aren’t working properly, or poll workers who have not been properly trained to activate the nonvisual access features.
The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute wants to know if you experience any barriers to voting, so we developed a blind voter survey so that you can tell us about your voting experience. This will help us to identify problem jurisdictions and advocate for continued accessibility improvements.
The National Federation of the Blind has fought for the rights of blind voters for many years now. In the early 1980s, we advocated for a change to federal law allowing blind voters to have a person of our choice accompany us into the voting booth. This was necessary at a time when voting machines could not easily be made accessible to the blind and was a welcome change from having strangers (usually poll workers and/or partisan election monitors) assist us in operating the machine or marking our ballot. After the 2000 presidential election revealed serious problems with existing voting technology, Congress became interested in election reform. By that time, technology had advanced to the point where designing voting equipment with nonvisual access features was possible, and so we advocated for such technology to be required in federal elections. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law on October 29, 2002, and it requires that every polling place have at least one voting machine that is accessible to the blind and voters with other disabilities.
Voting is a constitutional right, and it is the primary way that all of us can influence how we are governed. Be sure to exercise your right to vote on or before Election Day. If you encounter barriers, persist until you can vote privately and independently, just like any other voter, and use the blind voter survey to tell us about your experience.