Hope you are all doing well and staying cool during this wicked heatwave we’ve been living through.
I have some exciting news to share. Earlier in the month I decided to join a couple of plaintiff’s in a lawsuit against the state to remove the two-witness and notary requirement on mail ballots during the September and November elections. These requirements were removed for the June primary and I could not understand why they were not removed again during a pandemic. I thought about all the older people I care about, as well as how this would impact everyone across our tiny yet great state. I thought about the challenges this would bring for people with disabilities. I thought about how disabled people are all too often not given a proper seat at the table, especially at the political table. I have always believed that no matter what side of the aisle you are on, we all (including public officials) need to find a way to sit at the same table, understand that we have differences, but come to the agreement that human lives should be more important than political agendas.
Through all this, I basically got a mini course on election law which has been a great experience. I would like to publicly thank Kate Bowden from Disability Rights Rhode Island, Jonathan Diaz and Simone Leeper from the Campaign Legal Center, (CLC) as well as Steven Brown, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) for being so great about answering my questions along the way. I would also like to thank Corey Goldstone at the CLC communications team for being so open about accessibility. Before my piece came out, we talked about how just mentioning a persons age and town in a photo caption is not as descriptive as it could be. He asked if it was okay to mention the color of my shirt in the photo and I told him it was and thanked him for asking. I explained that it would help if they explained that the photo is a headshot, I have a red shirt on, and I am smiling, lets those with screen readers know more about the photo going along with the story. He said he would pass that information along to his team and would make more changes like this moving forward. I am happy and blessed to be a part of such an important conversation. Sometimes for me personally it helps having someone read something out loud along with reading it with my technology. Simone and Corey were great about reading everything. You can read about the case here.
Find the press release here.
You can find their web update here.
Yesterday the federal judge in this case said that removing this two-witness notary requirement was reasonable but the Republican Party is appealing this case. Everyone has different outlets they like, so find what 10 put out below.
Please think of each other. Please save a seat at your table for a disabled person. Not because you feel bad for us. Not because you are bored. Not because you’re trying to make yourself feel better or because your friends think you’re so nice for being friends with that one friend with a disability. Give us a spot at your table (personally and professionally) because like you, we deserve to be heard. We deserve your friendship. We deserve opportunity. And we most certainly deserve a seat at the table discussing the decisions that affect our country.