Logan’s Vote | A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Voting Experience
This article is written by Lorie Brew, PEAL’s Families-to-the-MAX Coordinator in Eastern PA.
My son Logan has not missed voting in an election since he registered at the age of eighteen, nine years ago. In the last few years Logan has become increasingly independent; navigating his neighborhood with confidence. Logan takes his right to vote ever-seriously. He never has to be reminded of Election Day or where his polling place is located. Logan goes to his polling place on his own, often early in the morning.
Logan has autism. I don’t know when or how Logan became civically-minded. My husband and I didn’t bombard him with messages or incentives to actively participate in elections. However, as a young child he’s watched us vote and fulfill our civic duty.
When Logan was eighteen we walked, as a family, to our polling location. Logan seemed unsure at first, not knowing what to expect. I knew that if I visually demonstrated the process he would only have to see the steps once and then he would be able to do it on his own. While I was unaware of the accommodations for people with disabilities, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to assist him in the voting process. I have since learned that a person with a disability is entitled to bring the person of his choice to assist in the voting booth. When Logan registered to vote there is a box that he checked that enables him to bring me, or any person of his choice, into the booth with him. However, if you did not check the box when you registered you may complete a Declaration of the Need for Assistance to Vote form at your polling place. Know that the poll worker is required to give this form to you. Anyone can help assist you in the booth except the Judge of Elections, the voter’s union representative, or your employer.
I knew that we had all of the appropriate forms completed and that Logan was on his way to vote in his first election, however, his first experience at the polling place was a little tricky. Some poll watchers said that as a parent I could accompany him into the voting booth, while others seemed skeptical and kept a watchful eye. A few people have made comments that suggest Logan has a lack of understanding of what positions a candidate holds and if he’s competent and can make a thoughtful choice. I chuckle at these statements. Logan is absolutely competent and able to make a thoughtful choice — probably more thoughtful than a lot of persons who do not have a disability. Additionally, I don’t remember ever taking an assessment on what I know about a candidate in order to vote. My son does not have to explain or prove his knowledge or capabilities before voting. No one else goes through an assessment.
Despite the skeptical looks and comments, Logan has enjoyed the positive experience of voting. Many of the poll watchers have gotten to know him. He lives in the community and is a neighbor. I’m not sure if he understands its importance and that his vote does make a difference, but he continues to vote each Election Day. Now, nine years later, Logan lives on his own and makes his way to his polling place independently. He takes pride in this ritual and makes sure to never miss an election. As a family, we are very proud of this accomplishment
This article was written for the PEAL Center’s Fall 2016 Newsletter. Read the full newsletter here.