“I’m a second-class citizen.”
A projected 7 million Americans who are eligible to vote in the presidential election live with visual impairments, Kaiser Health News reports.
For those who also deal with illnesses that place them at a higher risk from COVID-19, voting this year will be especially difficult.
The pandemic has exposed glaring holes in absentee and mail-in voting systems around the nation. In some places, voters who have blindness, low vision or learning or physical disabilities could not cast a ballot remotely without asking for help, thereby compromising their privacy.
Norma Crosby is a 64-year-old Texan who was born virtually without sight. For more than half of her voting life, friends and relatives stood beside her and filled out her ballot at the polls. Then, around the year 2000, accessible voting machines enabled her to vote in person on her own.
But now the COVID-19 pandemic makes going to the polls risky for Crosby. She also has a condition that requires her to take immunosuppressant drugs, and her state does not have a mail-in voting system that accommodates her visual impairment.
“It communicates to me that I’m not valued as much as other citizens,” said Crosby, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas, “that I’m a second-class citizen.”