Voter with Disability Describes Importance of Casting a Vote

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

HARRISONBURG, Va -- Voter Mary Garber has lived for 17 years with muscular dystrophy and that has made things more difficult for her, including voting.

“It is getting worse, where now I use a walker and for long distances, a wheelchair,” said Garber.

Muscular dystrophy has not stopped Garber from voting. She hopes other people with disabilities know about options they have, like curbside voting or using special equipment.

That is where Harrisonburg's Electoral Board Member Jim Gilchrist helps.

“There's absolutely no reason to think they can't come to our precincts and be able to vote,” said Gilchrist.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires handicapped accessibility for federal elections. The state of Virginia's website said it is in the process of making sure polling places comply.

Garber said those changes need to happen soon for disabled people, whom Garber said are often overlooked.

“I don't think people think about barriers until you deal with it. One of those would be voting,” said Garber.

All of the polling places in Harrisonburg are at public schools, so thanks to the American's with Disabilities Act, that means they have to have handicapped accessibility.

It is that accessibility that makes the difference for people, like Garber, who live every day with disabilities.

“People need to be heard. People who have issues, mobility issues, disability issues, need to let the legislature know that something needs to change.”

All of the polling places in Rockingham County are handicapped accessible.

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