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Exercise Your Democratic Rights with Aira

October 31st, 2018

American flag raised on a flag pole, blowing in the wind.

American flag raised on a flag pole, blowing in the wind.

Unless you have been completely disconnected from all media, you know that we have an important election for national and local offices on November 6. So, to show our support, Aira is here to help with free minutes for activities related to voting should you need us – available to anyone with the Aira app.

I love exercising my right to vote and always have. I’ve voted with an absentee ballot back in college, I’ve voted with assistance from my friends and my wife, but I remember the absolute elation I felt when I voted independently for the first time with an accessible voting machine. I practically skipped with joy out of the polling station.

I have tried to be an informed voter, which was not always easy to do when accessing voter information required finding and wading through lots of paper. But now, most of the information we need to educate ourselves is available on the internet. And, in 2016, I even spent several days making phone calls and knocking on doors for the candidate I supported.

The Help America Vote Act (2002) provides for accommodation for every part of the voting process, including voting machines, material, and so on. It’s a step in the right direction, but there are still challenges related to exercising our democratic right as blind people. Today, through November 7, Aira will be available for free use to assist us with conveniently and efficiently accessing voter information and more.

“The National Federation of the Blind has led the way in advancing and protecting the rights of blind voters, so today more blind people than ever before can cast their votes privately at the polls,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “However, blind people still face barriers, from casting absentee ballots to getting to and navigating their polling places. We therefore commend Aira for making its service available to all blind voters, enhancing our ability to exercise this critical right with confidence and independence.”

In all likelihood, Aira cannot be used at your polling station to help you cast a vote. Generally, cellphones are not allowed in the voting booth. And at any rate, if your polling station is following federal law, there should be at least one accessible voting machine available. However, Aira certainly can help you fill out an absentee application or ballot, if your state doesn’t yet have an accessible way for you to do so.

If you are having any difficulty accessing voter information, whether it’s reading a sample ballot or all the paper we get from candidates in the mail, or navigating and accessing online information, Aira can help you with that as well.

Getting to your polling station has never been easier, as you can ask an agent to schedule a ride with Uber or Lyft, whichever service you prefer. This counts as a voting-related task so long as you make it clear to the agent that you are taking a ride to your local polling station. Want a pro-tip? Uber and Lyft will also be running promotions for the elections, so make sure you take advantage of them.

Many polling stations are in schools, libraries, community centers, or other public buildings, so even if you can get to the building independently, you may need help following the signs that direct you to the specific room where voting is taking place. As always, Aira can help get you where you need to be.

Finally, if you are ready to make phone calls or go knock on doors for the candidate(s) you support, you might feel more confident using Aira to read the list of phone numbers you’ve been assigned or to verify the name of the person you are attempting to reach; or you could use Aira to help ensure you’re at the correct address, or to find your way to the door.

Just tell your Aira agent that you’re seeking assistance with tasks or activities related to voting, and we’ll give you those minutes for free.

Of course, if the Aira agent is not sure your activity relates to voting, he or she may ask you to verify the connection to voting.

To use this promotion, tap on the “Call using a Free Offer” button on the app of your home screen. Then, tap on “Promotions” and locate the “Vote 2018” offer. Starting a session with this offer will ensure that you don’t use any of your minutes. This promotion is available to both Guests and subscribing Explorers.

For information about how to find your polling place, registration or other voter information, you can find a wealth of resources at https://www.vote.org/

The National Federation of the Blind also has information about accessible voting and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) at https://nfb.org/blind-voters-guide

Lastly, make sure you are registered to vote! You can check your registration status by filling out this form.

Written by Paul Schroeder, Aira Vice President for Public Policy and Strategic Initiatives

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Aira Vote 2018