The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is disappointed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) recent adoption of the Voluntary Voting System Guideline (VVSG) 2.0 Requirements. The adopted VVSG 2.0 requirements ignored the recommendations made by the disability community to:
- ensure accessible remote voting,
- prohibit segregated in-person voting,
- and require a reasonable voting system upgrade schedule so that voters with disabilities are not expected to use old, inaccessible ballot marking devices for decades to come.
As a result, VVSG 2.0 does not ensure a private and independent ballot for all voters in a non-discriminatory manner.
The extensive security requirements in VVSG 2.0 require the use of a voter-verified paper printed ballot. The requirements also limit remote voting to blank ballot delivery. These requirements create major barriers to ensuring accessibility for all in-person and remote voting options.
“While voters with disabilities are legally entitled to mark, verify and cast their ballots privately and independently, VVSG 2.0 will not ensure that right becomes a reality” said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of NCIL. “The disability community has been promised for over a decade that paper ballots can and will be made fully accessible, yet we have not seen that happen. VVSG 2.0 does nothing to ensure fully accessible voting systems will be available in a timely manner, or that they will be deployed in a non-discriminatory way for in-person and remote voting. While NCIL supports the need for secure elections, we are deeply troubled by the EAC’s decision to not address the negative impact the VVSG 2.0 security requirements will have on accessibility. Voters with disabilities should not be asked to sacrifice their fundamental right to vote privately and independently in the name of security.”
The VVSG 2.0 will be used by voting system manufacturers to develop future products for the next decade or longer. Unfortunately, the new standards will not create meaningful improvement in voting accessibility. Instead, they will pave the way for segregation and discrimination against Americans with disabilities.
The word “dream” can evoke a variety of thoughts, feelings or memories. For many, it first refers to subconscious mental images experienced during different stages of sleep. For myself, since February is Black History Month, I often think of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech and how it still inspires us. Historically, other great leaders and visionaries have long had dreams they have actualized to improve our world. The word has powerful positive and negative connotations for us all.
Before America became a country, our forefathers had a dream of a new nation where people could live in freedom. President Abraham Lincoln captured that dream well in the first sentence of his stirring Gettysburg Address. Before SKIL was founded, the late sisters Jeanette Pruitt and Marty Wooten realized that many people with disabilities in our area had major life needs not being met. The caring sisters had a dream of opening a local independent living center that would be a vital resource for meeting those needs. SKIL Resource Center, Inc., which today helps thousands of people with disabilities, is the direct result of Pruitt and Wooten’s dream.
Do you have dreams? Are they realistic, fantasy or almost impossible to achieve? Do you share your dreams with others or keep them to yourself? Do you leave them in your mind or sleep, or do you work to make them a reality? If the country you live in was built on a dream, and if the independent living center that serves you and thousands of others was founded on a dream, do you realize that dreams truly can become reality?
Dreams are doable! I encourage every one of you who reads this column to have dreams. A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in www.azquotes.com , says it best:
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
There is a famous quote that goes like this: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” The quote is often attributed to former President Abraham Lincoln, sometimes Robert Ingersoll. What is important about this wonderful quote is that it is true.
Power can be defined as: “ability to do or act…capability to do or accomplish something…political or national strength…to supply with electricity or other means of power…” — (From www.dictionary.com , ellipses mine re: punctuation). And, of course, there are additional definitions, both in other dictionaries and in the wide common usage of the word.
The word power often evokes an image or mindset of strength, of might. Have you ever thought about how you use power? Have you ever struggled to determine whether or not to utilize the personal power you possess? I have and such can be a most difficult decision, especially when running a vital organization like SKIL.
A friend of mine once wrote: “The greatest strength of the truly powerful is in the judicious, restrained use of that power.”
How true! For to use power wisely, one must have discernment. It can be very easy to speak, or to act, when you are angry or upset. It can be much harder to restrain yourself in the heat of the moment and realize that you should keep your mouth shut. Sometimes, choosing NOT to exert our power is the wisest choice, though such can also be the hardest choice.
A core management philosophy we seek to live by here at SKIL is that the effectiveness of a good leader is to not react. Sometimes, it is OK to sit back and let circumstances or problems play out instead of intervening and trying to fix them. And sometimes, it is necessary to act. Learning about this is good education regarding how to use power.
How do you use the life power that you have? Do you consider whether your words or actions will uplift or hurt those to whom you offer them? Are you able to decide when, or if, to act? Can you stop yourself from reacting when it would be better NOT to use your power?
I hope that, generally speaking, I use my power effectively, judiciously and fairly, erring on the side of mercy. It’s a continuous learning/growing effort, not a life accomplishment I have arrived at or perfected. I challenge each of you to learn and grow, too, about how to best use your life power as you forge ahead in 2021.
This week’s column is about unification. There has been a lot of news about our country’s divisions. It is time for us to start bringing people back together again.
People with disabilities have a long and sad history of being put aside and disregarded. We know that is an awful feeling, so let’s follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We can start our country’s unification process right here in our own communities. We need to look at what we have in common with our neighbors and fellow community members. We may have more in common than we realize.
Reach out to each other in kindness and hope it is met with kindness in return. When someone throws things up that you don’t agree with, don’t get angry. Try to overcome that feeling by changing the subject or agreeing to disagree. Look for opportunities to be kind. It is difficult for everyone to have the threat of the COVID virus hanging over our heads; no one needs all this hate on top of that.
Let’s all do our part to pull our communities together. As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
As you may know, SKIL and other advocacy groups fought to get Direct Support Workers (DSWs) included on the Kansas state government’s list of frontline healthcare workers in Phase 1A of the Coronavirus vaccine rollout, so these workers would qualify to receive vaccines more quickly. By working together, we have thankfully have accomplished this--a great victory to celebrate!
If you are a DSW and want to get your COVID-19 shots, you are now allowed to do so. You must locate where the vaccines are being given in your community and contact the providers who administer them to see when you can get your shots.
Let me be clear when I say that we at SKIL respect and honor your choices on whether and/or when to take the vaccine or not. That said, you must educate yourself to be best able to make that decision. Please check out the links below for more information on the Coronavirus vaccine process:
Thank you for being responsible and educating yourselves on this most important decision. We appreciate you for your dedicated work to serve our customers,