Categories: ASD and DD, Adult-focused
By Margaret Walsh, M.A., BCBA
Voting is one of the most important responsibilities we have as citizens of the United States. It is one way of collectively voicing our opinion about how we want our country to be run. The decisions our elected officials make impact every aspect of our lives. Adults living with intellectual disabilities (ID) should be encouraged to participate in the voting process because they feel the impact of these decisions too.
According to William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, people with intellectual and physical disabilities can vote in all elections. The only exception is if the person with ID has a guardianship decree that specifically states that they cannot vote. Not every adult with ID is interested in voting, but if they are interested in voting, they can and should vote.
One perception that prevents adults with ID from participating in the voting process is the belief that they do not understand the voting process and may be unable to make complex decisions about questions on the ballot. This perception significantly underestimates this population’s ability to grasp the issues that impact them most. For example, they certainly know that budget cuts to the services they rely on will negatively impact their lives.
Many adults with ID are able make informed choices and need support to ensure that they can appropriately take part in the voting process. People who support adults with ID can help them register to vote, explain what to expect when they are voting, and make sure they know where they can vote in their community. They can assist them in filling out a mail in ballot or accompany them to the polling place.
If the individual with ID opts to vote in person, going over the voting process well in advance of voting day is very important because there is a lot to know. For example, he or she should know: