Get Out and Vote! (Or Stay In and Vote!)
This weekend I was having too rough of a symptom time to go partake in Halloweekend activities with friends –– but sitting on my couch watching The Craft started to get a little old around hour twelve or so. So I decided if I had nothing else to show for my weekend, I’d go vote. Early.
Illinois (where I live) is one of many states that allows early voting. Since I’m only 24, I’d never actually voted in person for a presidential election before. I’d voted in the primaries, and some local elections, so I think I underestimated how crazy election day would be. That underestimation was clearly evidenced in the fact that when I got to the library on a random day of early voting, there was a line out the door.
Aside from a blip on the radar of this weekend, my symptoms have been mostly improving, so I hunkered down in line with a book and waited. As I was waiting, I started to think about how other chronically ill people (who aren’t as lucky to be “on an upswing” like me) might deal with long lines at the polls. Disabled people are a hugely important voting block –– because duh, we have a lot at stake here. But standing in an hour long line isn’t exactly sick-kid friendly for a lot of people.
That’s where it becomes exceedingly important to know your options. Know whether your state has early voting, where lines are likely to be shorter and more manageable. Know that employers legally have to give full-time employees time off in which to cast their ballots, so you don’t need to create a crazy hectic day for yourself trying to get your vote in. Know your state’s rules on absentee ballots –– for people who are ill, these are a freaking godsend. When you can barely leave your house for doctor’s appointments, leaving to go struggle around a crowded polling place is probably out of the question. As it were, though, you can vote from your couch!
There’s a lot at stake for disabled people this election (which is why #CripTheVote has become so popular). People’s access to healthcare depends upon it. Funding to the government for things like disability benefits depends on votes. Having a president who respects you as a person (and doesn’t mock disabled people in public) depends on it.
Everyday life is harder for people who are ill, and life comes at us fast. Don’t let that get in the way of making your voice heard. Don’t let an unplanned trip to the ER or a horrible symptom day keep you away from the polls –– vote now, if you can. Because while a lot of healthy, upper-middle-class white dudes can afford to sit this one out because their rights aren’t at stake here, we definitely can’t.
Not sure where to go to find out where, when, and how you can vote? Head over to IWillVote.com and find your early (and Election Day) polling places. You can also check out each state’s absentee voting rules on Vote.org.
Do it for your rights, the rights of patients like you, and for the sweet “I Voted” sticker Instagram post.