DENVER — With just over two weeks until the November election, Colorado voters are getting ready to cast their ballots.
Even though it’s an off-year election, it’s going to be a historic one for Colorado voters who are blind. This will be the first time Colorado voters who are blind or have a disability will not have to arrange a ride to a polling place. They can now cast their vote, like many folks already do, from the privacy of their home.
“I’m in a bowling league, I go tandem cycling or go hang out with friends,” Monique Melton said.
You wouldn’t know by her activity schedule that Monique Melton was born blind.
For nearly two decades she has been exercising her right to vote. That use to entail finding a ride to a polling place and using a machine to fill out her ballot, but she says the process was complicated.
“There were problems with the machine,” Melton said. “It might have to be restarted – sometimes it was just inconvenient.”
It’s been six years now since Colorado moved to hold all elections entirely by mail, but Melton says even when a friend or family member marked the ballot as she directed, she worried if they were really being honest.
“Everybody has different political views and you might not agree with whoever is helping you fill out the ballot,” Melton said.
But now there is a new way to vote, from the privacy of her own home . Melton, along with other members of the National Federation of the Blind, helped pass a law this past May that required the Secretary of State to create an interactive online ballot.
A screen reader voice helps Melton navigate the ballot. When finished, she will print it and mail it with a signed affidavit attesting that she qualifies for this ballot under the Americans with Disability Act. A big step, Melton said, in the right direction.
“People with disabilities deserve to have a voice just like everybody else,” Melton said.
Colorado joins two other states, Maryland and New Mexico that have implemented similar voting technology.
For more information, go to the Colorado Secretary of State website.