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As Deadline Nears, Groups Register Blind Voters

Qiling Wang for KUT
June Conway helps Eric Hood register to vote on September 27, 2016.

In less than a month, the window for registering for this year’s presidential election will close. That’s why on Tuesday's National Voter Registration Day groups were helping folks all over the city get registered – and that includes people who are blind.

Lonniesha Grimes was among a group at Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center – a facility in Austin that provides services and job training to adults who are blind – who got some advice ahead of this year’s election. Grimes, who is legally blind herself, got some information and a number to call if she has any trouble at the polls.

Like a lot of other people, Grimes says she plans on voting in November, but she’s not exactly excited about it.

“I’m more excited about the thought of having a woman being the president for the first time, but all the other stuff, no,” she laughs.

Grimes isn’t too happy about some of the things she’s heard throughout this presidential election, but now that the election is getting closer, she is getting serious.

“I’m very anxious,” Grimes said. “I think everybody should get out and vote.”

People in the visually impaired community like Grimes, or people who are part of the disabled community in general, are actually less likely to vote.

According to a 2013 study funded by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, voter turnout for disabled adults was 5.7 percentage points lower than that of people who don't have mental or physical disabilities.

Credit Qiling Wang for KUT
Nevzat Adil, with the National Federation for the Blind.

That’s why the League of Women Voters of Austin and local disability rights groups worked together on Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day, to put this registration drive.

“We just want to show the community that we are interested in voting,” says Nevzat Adil with the National Federation for the Blind. “We are citizens who are interested in issues and stuff and it is important to vote.”

“We are trying to raise the consciousness among blind people that we don’t only have rights – we have responsibilities like voting and other civic responsibilities.”

June Conway with the League of Women Voters of Austin says this was the first voter registration drive the group has held specifically for the blind.

“Because it’s a little different from just being at an event and having people walk up to a table or you assault them and crowd’s and say ‘are you registered to vote’ so it’s a new experience for us and a new experience for them,” Conway says.

And she plans on doing this again, she said, probably for the 2018 election.

For this year though, the voter registration deadline is Oct. 11.

You can find out more about how to register on the state's voting website,

If you live in Travis County, you can also text "Register" to 48683 (IVOTE) to receive a voter registration card from the county's registrar.

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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