The political process can at first seem intimidating. Having a disability can often make it more so. Since my illness makes it difficult for me to watch television or read the newspaper, I used to wonder, “How do I make sense of it all?” “What do the candidates have to offer me?” “What do I have to offer them?”

During my early twenties, I was diagnosed with a psychotic break that turned out to be schizophrenia. Schizoid affects such as paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and voices sometimes make it difficult to make sense of the political scene. In fact, it can be surreal. Luckily, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other Acts of Congress ensure that voters with disabilities are allowed to vote as easily as their able counterparts. A nice publication about these acts is The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities from the U.S. Department of Justice.

For me, in particular, the easiest way to get involved with electing officials that represent me was to start voting from home. I have found it very useful to read the voter pamphlets that I have sent to my residence in the mail. A good place to get information on how to do that in Washington State is to visit the web site: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/voters/voters-with-disabilities.aspx. There you can find information on how to order accessible pamphlets which include information on the various qualifications and personal statements, as well as endorsements from organizations supporting each candidate that might help you make a decision. These may be ordered to arrive in a variety of formats.

There are probably as many ways of selecting a candidate from the information provided as there are voting individuals. You can decide on what you like about a candidate for yourself.

When I have sorted the candidates according to who I think represents my interests the best, I can send my ballot by mail without worrying about transportation to the voting location or crowds, noise, etc. Additionally, people who need assistance with filling out the ballots can have someone prepare it for them.

Voting is fundamental to democracy in the United States of America. Don’t feel like a disability keeps you from it.

BIO

Elliott is a forty-two year old schizophrenic with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Utah State University. He has been living in Seattle since 2003. He likes to travel with his wife and is an amateur radio enthusiast.