ADVOCATE FOR INDEPENDENCE
Empowering People Through Advocacy


September 2020
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A monthly publication from our Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist,
Patrick Ober, JD, PhD,
Hello again, CILO supporters and Disability Advocates! Advocate for Independence is a monthly rundown of law, policy, and advocacy issues to know and learn about related to people with disabilities and independent living.

2020 Election and Voting Information

Yes, more voting information….but in bullet points, so it’s easy to read and remember!

Deadline to Register to Vote: October 5
·       Check your voter status.
·       Moved recently? In order to vote you will need to update your information at VoteOhio.gov.

Deadline to Submit your Absentee Ballot Application: October 31, but DO IT NOW (October 27th at the latest)
·       You must fill out the paper application. It is available online (but also
available in voter information box placed outside of the CILO office at
2031 Auburn Ave!)
·       Fill it out, drop it off, or add postage and mail it via USPS
·       If you cannot print one or stop by the voter information box in front
of CILO, don't worry! Ohio will mail absentee application to all
registered voters starting September 6 (So Register!)

Deadline to Submit Absentee Ballot: The ballot must be postmarked by November 2, or dropped off at County Board of Elections by 7:30PM on Tuesday, November 3 (Election Day).  Ballots will be mailed to those who applied for them on October 6th.
 
*BIG THING TO REMEMBER:* If you request an absentee ballot, but then decide you want vote in person, it gets complicated and you may (at best) be able to fill out a provisional ballot, but will also likely spend more time at the polling station talking with the workers to figure out any confusion. So, make your choice on how to vote and stick with it!

People with disabilities can receive assistance registering, applying for (and filling out) absentee ballots; and casting their vote at polling sites on election day.

We are down to less than 60 days before the 2020 election! That also means there are less than one month to register to vote (the deadline is October 5th).


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Ohio Legal and Policy Issues to Follow

The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) extended its moratorium on renter evictions, which originally ran to September 1, through the end of October. Rent still must be paid, but CMHA is not processing any legal evictions, and is imploring landlords to work with their renters on reasonable and timely payment plans. In addition, CARES Act funding has allowed CMHA to offer signing bonuses to landlords that lease apartments to individuals with housing vouchers. These steps taken by CMHA are very helpful for people with disabilities that utilize public housing and vouchers to obtain independent living arrangements and maintain their housing during the pandemic.

Organizations across Ohio have filed multiple lawsuits in federal court against the Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, over his decision in early August to not permit more than one ballot drop box to be available in each county. The lawsuits claim that the lack of additional drop boxes during this pandemic unconstitutionally burdens a person’s ability and right to vote, and ask the courts to clarify whether the law permits Secretary of State LaRose to limit each county to a single drop box at the board of elections. Currently, Hamilton County and Noble County in Eastern Ohio will have the same number of ballot drop boxes (1), but Hamilton County has about 800,000 more residents than Noble. The lawsuits aim to allow counties to install more ballot drop boxes to align with their population sizes and provide more accessibility to those wishing to avoid polling sites on election day.


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Community Education Corner

In this final section, there are some links to articles and information that can help you and your community better understand and appreciate the experiences and lives of people with disabilities. If you have any suggestions for stories to share in future newsletters, please contact me via email!

The pandemic has brought about many challenges and problems for people with disabilities, and many feel as though with all of the conflict and conversation surrounding society, their needs and concerns are merely an afterthought. From outdoor accessibility at restaurants, to a lack of captioning used by Zoom and other telecommunication apps, to a surge in people falsely claiming a disability to avoid mask-wearing requirements in public, the disability community is both being exploited and ignored.

Despite these issues outlined in the article above, not all is doom and gloom for the disability community and independent living. In fact, for many during the pandemic the world has also opened up. For people with disabilities that want to live independently, our communities must find how to use technology and remote employment opportunities to create a more inclusive and accessible world.

Finally, another positive story to share! For the 30th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York Times sought to publish a braille version of their newspaper. The problem was finding a company that could handle the job. At the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in North College Hill, half of its staff is either blind or visually-impaired and can do what few printing companies can.

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Please reach out with any comments or questions.

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