Welcome to Indiana Disability Rights New Monthly Blog Series!
IDR's Monthly Blog Series is written by our staff each month. The blog posts will discuss different initiatives, cases, or information related to disability rights.
The Best-Kept Secret of Early Voting
October 30, 2018
By Kristin Dulaney, Communication & Outreach Specialist
When I started as an intern in 2015, I was passionate about voting rights, but had a lot to learn. As I’ve become more involved in IDR’s voting work over the last three years, I’ve not only learned about rights, but also about the different ways to vote in Indiana. With only 20% of Indiana’s registered voters actually casting a ballot in May’s Primary Election, I’d like to share one of the coolest—and most underutilized—ways to vote: the travelling board.
The travelling board is a voting option offered by the State of Indiana for those who cannot make it to the polls due to difficulty leaving their residence or voters who believe that their polling location may be inaccessible. It is a bi-partisan, absentee voter board that will bring ballots to eligible voters at their place of residence. Voters complete their ballots—with or without assistance—in the privacy of their residence, and the ballot is then returned to the appropriate election officials by the travelling board.
To find out more about the actual experience of voting with the travelling board, I talked to Emily Munson, the attorney for IDR’s Employment Team. Emily used the travelling board for the first time to vote in the Primary Election of 2016. She told me that the two volunteers who came to her home were, “kind and helpful.” She continued, explaining that, “the gentleman helped me reposition my ballot on the table, as needed, and helped me get the ballot into the envelope.” Overall, Emily had a great experience exercising her right to vote through the travelling board.
If you would like to cast your vote through the travelling board this election, complete and submit this one-page application to your County Clerk’s office. You may also contact your County Clerk’s office directly to request assistance obtaining or completing the application. The last day to request to vote by travelling board is Monday, November 5 at noon, local time.
Finally, if you have any questions or issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Indiana Disability Rights. For those who choose to vote on Election Day, our Hoosiers Vote Hotline will be open and staffed by attorneys to answer your questions and provide advice on voting issues. Please call us at 800-622-4845.
Making it to the polls on Election Day can be challenging for a whole host of reasons, including: transportation, schedule conflicts, and accessibility issues. As people become more aware of the travelling board, though, it is my hope that the turnout statistic for this election will be much higher than 20%.
For more information, visit www.HoosiersVote.org, a website dedicated to voting rights and maintained by Indiana Disability Rights.
Indiana Disability Rights Launches Supported Decision-Making Website
September 17, 2018
By Dawn Adams, Executive Director
This past summer, Indiana Disability Rights had the privilege of representing Jamie Beck in terminating her guardianship in favor of using a supported decision-making agreement, a historic first for Indiana. This agreement allows Ms. Beck to make her own decisions about how she will live her life and provides documentation of specific individuals she has chosen to provide support in specific areas such as finance and medical decisions. But, at the end of the day, Jamie gets to make the final decision.
But what is Supported Decision-Making (SDM)? Just as wheelchairs can be used to accommodate people who need help with mobility, SDM is a way to accommodate the decision-making process for those who need some assistance. Think about the decisions you make in your everyday life: what to wear in the morning, where to eat lunch today, or whether or not you should buy a new car. You probably quickly decide on your own what you will wear each day. You may ask some co-workers for recommendations for a new lunch spot. But a new car is a bigger decision that will likely involve talking to a partner, friends, mechanic, or even going online to read reviews. In the last situation, you sought out “support” to help you make a decision.
Because guardianship is restrictive in nature and grants all decision-making power to the guardian, SDM is quickly being recognized as an alternative to guardianship. This does not mean that SDM is right for everyone. But in the many cases where it is appropriate, SDM can serve as both a tool for support and self-determination by recognizing and respecting a person’s ability to make their own decisions.
Indiana Disability Rights is proud to launch our website dedicated to providing trusted resources about SDM in Indiana for the public, legal practitioners, and individuals with disabilities. This website is in its infancy and as more resources are developed and vetted, they will be added to the site for open and free access to anyone who is eager to learn more.
Visit IDR's Supported Decision-Making Website Here