TOLEDO, Ohio — As the early voting period starts in Ohio in the midst of a global pandemic, voters are considering all their options when it comes to casting their ballots, including Ohioans who have a disability.
With that in mind, we break down how accessible voting in the state works and what resources are available.
All Ohio voters have three ways to participate in any election: early in-person voting, early in-person voting at the polls on Election Day (Nov. 3), and absentee voting.
If you have a disability and want to vote in-person, it's important to know all voting locations in the state must be made accessible. Under state and federal law, everyone must be given the same opportunity for access and participation in elections.
However, if you would like to vote absentee, you can use the accessible absentee voting system, also known as the remote ballot marking system, available in Ohio.
The system allows you to receive an accessible absentee ballot on any device connected to the internet. This way, you can read and mark your ballot while being able to use assistive technology. After you mark you ballot, you must print and return it to your local county board of elections.
In order to apply for an accessible ballot, you need to fill out this form on the Ohio Secretary of State's website.
You can return your ballot by mailing it to your local county board of elections or using one of the drop boxes available at county boards of elections in Ohio.
In Toledo area, if you have any questions relating to the election or completing the census, you can contact the Toledo Ability Center, either by calling 419-885-5733 or going to its website to connect with a live chat.
Remember, if you experience discrimination or have any questions or concerns, the Disability Rights Ohio has a hotline available on Election Day. Just call 1-800-282-9181.
You can also check all myths and truths concerning accessible voting on the Ohio Secretary of State website.
The Sight Center is stepping forward to support and transport voters
The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio is offering its services to area sight-impaired voters who are having difficulty navigating the options available or securing transportation to polling sites.
The Tuesday and Thursday prior to Election Day, staff and volunteers from The Sight Center will be available to assist with ballot completion and transportation to early voting sites for clients and others who live with permanent vision loss. Interested voters should contact The Sight Center in advance to request assistance as staff and volunteers are limited.
Voters utilizing the service are required to abide by The Sight Center's COVID-19 policies and procedures, which include appropriate face coverings, temperature checks, health screening questionnaires, hand sanitizing and appropriate social distancing.
To request voter assistance, contact The Sight Center at 419-720-3937 or firstname.lastname@example.org.