Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. It allows American citizens to have a say in who will represent them. Every vote plays a vital role in choosing our leaders and changing laws on both a local and federal level, a privilege that shapes the future of our country.
Once denied the right to vote, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 granted voters with disabilities the right to vote. With appropriate support, individuals are able to make informed decisions about candidates and the impact of the issues, many which affect them directly. Inclusion in the voting process empowers individuals and guarantees their voice is represented in our democracy.
Opengate is dedicated to ensuring individuals are given the opportunity to register and that their voting rights are respected. Individuals were provided information about voting by Krista Fucci, a social worker at Opengate. Krista verified the registration status of those who expressed an interest to vote, and assisted first time voters in registering.
Opengate staff remain neutral while supporting individuals with knowledge they need to make self-directed, educated decisions about their ballot choices. The individuals receive unbiased information about the candidates and the issues. In addition, to become better educated they watch the news, the debates, and engage in discussions with housemates and staff who are available to answer their questions. They are provided with impartial information from reliable resources so they understand the agenda of each candidate.
Americans voting in the 2020 election face concerns surrounding COVID-19 and some of our individuals have requested absentee ballots so they can vote from home. Others have opted to vote in person. Many of these individuals will take advantage of early voting, which begins October 24. This alleviates concerns about long lines and crowded polling places. Individuals who are registered but have not yet committed to vote will continue to be given opportunities and support to vote in the manner that they choose to do so, up until election day.
We are proud that the individuals that we support at Opengate take their right to vote and have their voices heard seriously. We recognize the power they have and encourage them to be agents of change in the country as well as their local communities.
Information from the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
Exercise Your Right To Vote.
All Americans have the right to vote, including people with developmental disabilities, and there are federal and state laws to guard and guarantee that right. OPWDD is committed to ensuring that voting rights are upheld for the people we serve, and that every person is given the opportunity to register to vote.
How to Register
You have many options when it comes to registering to vote. The New York Disability Vote Network website has helpful information for people with developmental disabilities, as does the NYS Board of Elections website with tips on How to Register, Knowing Your Voting Machine, Meeting Voter Access Needs, and more.
Agency-Based Voter Registration
OPWDD offers assistance with voter registration for the people we serve. Anyone who would like information or assistance in registering may contact their nearest OPWDD Voting Coordinator.
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)
The “Motor Voter Bill” is the federal law that ensures voting rights to all Americans. This act was signed on May 20, 1993, and includes specific provisions all states must follow.