Helen and William Craig are two of the most politically active citizens in Sitka, Alaska, KCAW reports.
An active Republican, William attended the party’s state convention this year as a delegate. Helen is an independent and at the Sitka Assembly meetings she asks members to sign “yes” or “no” as they vote in American Sign Language so she can follow along.
Helen lost her hearing at the age of seven from measles, mumps and rubella.
William has Retinitis Pigmentosa in both eyes, and at age 38 he was diagnosed as legally blind.
After the Help America Vote Act was passed in 2004, the state bought accessible voting machines for all polling places that display the ballot on digital touch screens, equipped with magnified text and audio cues. At Sitka’s municipal election this year, the machine worked – it sometimes hasn’t in the past – and the city put up a big partition around the machine that allowed William to vote in absolute privacy.
Before this, William had to verbally dictate his vote to another person.
The Craigs appreciate this, but are they are frustrated by one thing: they still cannot participate in in-person absentee voting. None of Alaska’s absentee in-person voting locations have machines for the blind.
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