• By: Ryan Lythall

Roll the vote: A PWD’s guide to voting

As you’re probably aware, Election Day is fast approaching whether we like it or not.

To be honest, I’m not one to openly discuss my political opinions. In my experience, it has started many arguments and even had friendships end.

With that in mind, though, I did watch the English debate, and I’ve been keeping up through various forms of media.

After the debate, I was pretty mad that nobody mentioned people with disabilities. I feel that PWD should be discussed as well. We are people too, and we quite clearly live in Canada. All across Canada, in fact.

I took to Social Media to voice my displeasure. One of my friends was kind enough to find a listing of what each party is promising regarding issues related to people with disabilities in Canada.

The above list can also be on the Inclusion Canada Facebook page and website.

While I won’t go into great detail, more needs to be done to help people with disabilities. For starters, talk about us openly. So far, any mention of people with disabilities has been very hush. I watch and listen to the news daily, and I haven’t heard a single word about people with disabilities.

Perhaps, I follow the wrong news sources, but I doubt that’s the reason.

This past weekend, I voted. This week, I want to share my experience voting both past and present as a person with a disability.

At this point in my life, I have voted in several elections at all three levels. For most able-bodied people and some people with disabilities, the process is quite simple and fast.


If you’re severely physically disabled and/or ask your caregiver/PSW or a friend or relative to assist you, things can become complicated or downright strange.

For example, I recall having one of my PSW being asked to place one of their hands on a bible and repeat whatever the Elections worker said. This happened a long time ago. I don’t remember the exact words they used, but it’s a moment that sticks out, though.

There have also been times when I’ve tried to use assistive devices to vote, but I was physically unable to use them. One of the devices had a switch and a screen. The idea was that a list of candidates appeared on screen, and you could use the controller to select who you wanted to vote for. The controller wasn’t sensitive enough for me to use.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen that machine for several years now.

Regarding wheelchair accessibility, I’ve gone to churches and community centres where accessibility was questionable. For some, I had to use small elevators that were sketchy just to get to the room where voting was being held. In another election, I recall going into a building and being told to go back outside to use the accessible entrance to this one specific room.

Whenever possible, I do vote. However, there were times when I couldn’t. One of those times was when a storm hit on Election day. By the time I tried to book Para Transpo, they were all booked up. One of the candidates offered to drive me to the Voting place, but they didn’t have a wheelchair-accessible van. This was also before Ottawa finally realized that having wheelchair-accessible taxis and busses was a good idea.

I’m getting old. I’ve been around the block a few times. Sometimes, by taxi or bus. Go figure.

I’m pleased to report that the last few Elections have gone smoothly for me in terms of voting. For the current election, I rolled in, and my PSW signed a form saying that weren’t telling me who to vote for. After that, I went to one of the tables and told my PSW where to put my “X.” From there, they dropped my ballot into the box.

That was it.

Now, I should mention that there have been times where I had my PSW wait outside. Before I went in, I made sure that my ID and Voting card was on my tray. The workers at the polling station were happy to assist me.

This time though, I asked my PSW to assist me because I have difficulty communicating when I’m wearing a mask.

For physically disabled or new to voting, please visit https://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=acc&document=index&lang=e to learn about accessibility and the different ways that YOU, yes, YOU can vote.

So, get out there, have your say, be LOUD!

Be heard.

Roll the vote!