Voting Access Better for MO People with Disabilities; Challenges Remain
With absentee voting underway, election season has arrived in Missouri, but voters with disabilities still face challenges.
While poll workers can assist voters with disabilities if they request help, advocates believe accessibility methods and technology should make voting more independent.
The state has a number of methods in place to help voters with disabilities access the polls.
Kara Clark Summers, president of the Missouri Association of County Clerks and Election Authorities, said poll workers are trained to offer assistance to anyone who requests it.
"We want to make sure that all people feel comfortable and be able to vote a ballot independently, or that we can assist them in whatever manner that they need assisting," Clark Summers explained.
The Missouri deadline to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 12.
Disability advocates argued the new ID restrictions around voting requiring individuals to have an unexpired ID can present both financial and logistical challenges, including having an address that affects the unhoused.
Nicole Noblet, a Missouri disability advocate who speaks through an Augmentative and Alternative Communication device, said while a mail-in ballot is an option, it is not a good one for her.
"I would have to have my mom mark my ballot because I don't have the motor skills in my hands to be able to fill in the small circles," Noblet explained. "I like being able to have my vote be private, and being able to cast my ballot independently is important to me."
Noblet added in her experience during municipal elections, accessible voting equipment has not been available at all polling locations, and she must travel to one of two locations to use the technology. She hopes eventually Missouri will allow the use of accessible voting by mail.
"One day, maybe Missouri will allow the use of accessible vote-by-mail systems that is utilized by the US military serving overseas, several cities in California, and McLean County, Illinois," Noblet pointed out.
Accessible voting by mail consists of a ballot emailed to the voter.
Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.