Get Out to Vote Despite Chronic Pain

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • Ok, I admit it.  I'm a hand-over-my-heart, flag-waving, all-American patriot who wells up every time the Star-Spangled Banner is played.  Yes, even my kitchen is decorated in red, white and blue.  And whenever I to go to Washington DC, I'm overwhelmed by the feeling that I'm standing in the midst of history. 

    The rights we have in the United States are second to none.  But my mother always taught me that every right carries with it an equally important responsibility.  (You know where I'm going here.)  One of our major responsibilities as American citizens is to vote. 

    If the number of early voters is any indication, this year's election promises to have a record turnout.  While this is great for the country, when you live in chronic pain, the thought of standing in long lines to vote is discouraging at best. 

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    Here are some tips to help you make voting easier and a little less painful:

    • If you are physically unable to go to the polls to vote, call your local election commission to see if there's still time for you to vote by absentee ballot. 
    • If your state has early voting, take advantage of it.  Even though you may still encounter a line, the wait should be significantly less than on election day.
    • Call your local election commission to find out what kind of accommodations are available at your precinct for people with disabilities.  Ask if chairs are available for those who cannot stand for long periods of time.
    • Be prepared.  Take a small collapsible chair with you so you can sit in line rather than standing.
    • Take a bottle of water with you as well as any medications you may need during the time you are waiting.
    • If you ever use a walking stick, cane or any type of assistive device, bring it with you.  Not only are you likely to need it, but it can be much easier to get accommodations when you “look” like you have a disability.
    • If you're going to need assistance getting to the polls, call your local Democratic or Republican party.  If you're voting for their candidate, they'll do whatever they can to make sure you get to the polls.  Be sure to call ahead of time, though, because there may not be anyone there on election day; workers will likely be at the polls or transporting voters.  I learned this one the hard way two years ago when I unexpectedly had car trouble on my way to vote.  When I tried to call to see if I could get a ride, no one was there. 

    Every election is important, but this one is especially important to those of us with medical problems since health care is one of the central issues of the campaign.  Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.  I want to encourage each of you to do your very best to vote and make sure your voice is heard.  Another important lesson about our rights my mother taught me is that if we don't exercise our right to vote, we forfeit our right to complain. 

    Go forth and vote!

Published On: October 27, 2008