Who Ensures Deaf/Hard of Hearing Voting Access during Caucuses?

Disability advocates are working to ensure that people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can participate in the selection of presidential candidates for their political parties during the Iowa caucuses.

What’s a caucus?

Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins helmets on display in a football stadium.
Think of a caucus as playoffs leading to the teams that will play the Super Bowl-our one Democratic and Republican candidate for the presidential elections. photo credit: houston texans vs. miami dolphins via photopin (license)

According to LifeHacker, “Before a presidential candidate can be on the ballot for the general election, they have to win the approval and backing of their political party. Think of the caucuses and primaries as the NFL playoffs—with candidates dropping out after each round of voting—and the general election this fall is like the Super Bowl where (usually) two candidates go head to head…”

According to a report from RespectAbility, five people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing have requested ASL and CART, or Communication Access Real-time Translation, to participate in the Iowa caucuses, when “Iowans will publicly pledge their support to one of the Democratic or Republican candidates and by the end of the evening, each county will have a winner.”

Because the caucuses selecting political party candidates aren’t government run, but are run by the state’s political parties, they don’t follow traditional election procedures to ensure voting access. Some caucuses are held in churches or individuals’ homes, complicating accessibility, according to the report.

Jane Hudson of Disability Rights Iowa, has helped empower Iowans of all abilities to participate in candidate selection through the caucuses, according to the report. Hudson has had conversations with the Democratic and Republican parties and helped secure ASL and CART for the five people requesting it.

ASL open mic, cross through picture of microphone and shows sign language instead
Having sign language interpreters at events ensures greater access for people who are Deaf to have their hands heard. photo credit: Poetic Vision via photopin (license)
The nonprofit organization is “part of a national network of protection and advocacy systems established in the 1970s by the U.S. Congress to respond to repeated abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities in large institutions.”

According to RespectAbility report, “While there was discussion on who should pay for this [ASL and CART], the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties are footing the bill.”

Having CART at events ensures that people with hearing loss have another option. photo credit: CART captioning via photopin (license)
Having CART at events ensures that people with hearing loss have another option. photo credit: CART captioning via photopin (license)
The Iowa caucus will occur on Monday, Feb. 1, starting at 7 p.m. Central Time and lasting two or three hours. Results will be posted here.
Texas will not have caucuses, as it has had in the past, but will have a primary when voters determine which candidates gain their vote.
The Texas primary is on March 1 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Early voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 16 and ends on Friday, Feb. 26.
 

 

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