Elections Saskatchewan developed this video to train poll workers on how best to assist voters with disabilities on Election Day. The video explains the different poll workers who contribute to running the polling station and provides practical guidance on providing assistance to voters with who have Deaf or hard-of-hearing, who have a physical disability, or who are blind or have low vision. A transcript is provided below.
Susie: I’ll be working at the polling station on voting day. What do I need to know about helping people vote?
Tiffany: Hey, Susie!
Susie: Oh, hi, Tiffany!
Tiffany: Hi there. Hello, I’m Tiffany. I’m here with some information about voter accessibility during provincial elections in Saskatchewan. First, Susie, you should know that all eligible voters have the right to vote. To be eligible, a person must be at least 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen, and a Saskatchewan resident for the past six months.
Tiffany: Elections Saskatchewan wants to include all eligible voters in the voting process. That means ensuring that voting is accessible to everyone. Most voters won’t need much assistance, but you asked about how you can help people on voting day. That’s a good question, Susie, and guess what?
Tiffany: I’ve got a video about ways of assisting all voters, including voters who might need more time or assistance.
Susie: Oh, wow!
Tiffany: This video shows specific ways you can assist everyone and make sure that their Voting day is a great day. (marker squeaks) And it starts with ‘Getting Ready.’
Susie: Getting ready!
Tiffany: (narrating) That’s right. It starts when people arrive. Have parking spaces, even temporary ones, close to the entrance for voters who may need accessible parking, and make sure temporary parking and accessible parking signs are clearly visible. All directional signage is in black and yellow for easier reading by everyone. If more directional signage is needed, the returning officer will contact Elections Saskatchewan in advance of voting day. Before the voting place open, make sure that entrances, exits, and paths into the polling place are accessible and clearly marked. Make sure that all signs, including accessibility signs, are placed where everyone can see them and not above the eye lie of people who use wheelchairs. You may provide seats for voters who may find it difficult to stand in line. And make sure there is enough room between tables and throughout the voting area so that wheelchairs can move freely.
Susie: (narrating) Who’s that?
Tiffany: That’s the Information Officer. As part of Elections Saskatchewan’s commitment to accessibility, there will be an Information Officer at every voting place. The Information Officer is the first person voters meet when they arrive, and it is his or her job to make sure people feel welcome and show them where to go.
Susie: Wow! I want to be an Information Officer!
Tiffany: The Information Officer also does whatever he or she can to make sure the voting process is as easy as possible, especially for people who might need extra time or who need a little extra assistance. When voters arrive, the Information Officer asks for their Voter Identification Card, asks if they brought their ID, and offers any assistance, if necessary. Everyone does need to show identification in order to be able to vote. Listen carefully, and even if a person who needs assistance has brought someone with them, be sure to speak directly to the voter.
Susie: Do I need to learn sign language?
Tiffany: You don’t need any special skills to help voters who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. (marker squeaks) Each voter will know what kind of assistance they might need. Just be patient, friendly, and see how you can help. When speaking to a person who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing, speak very clearly and make sure that your face is well lit so that you mouth and eyes can be easily seen. Make eye contact before you speak, look at the person while talking, and be sure to enunciate. Written instructions for voting may be provided. You can use gestures, such as pointing, nodding, or thumbs up or thumbs down. You can also write things down. Voters who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing and other voters who may require accommodations are encouraged to contact Elections Saskatchewan well before voting day to discuss voting options, which might include advance voting, voting by mail, or other alternatives.
Susie: What about people who use wheelchairs? Should I push them to where they need to go?
Tiffany: No. Some people might have mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, walkers, or canes. Mobility aids are part of their personal space, so don’t touch these aids without permission.
Susie: Okay, Tiffany, I won’t. Besides, I’m only six inches tall.
Tiffany: (narrating) If you ask someone whether they need assistance and they say that they don’t, don’t ask them if they are sure. Most people in wheelchairs are mobile and able to move around on their own as long as the area is clear and accessible. People must be able to vote in privacy. Make sure that the table height at the voting booth will allow someone using a wheelchair to vote comfortably.
Susie: (narrating) Ooooh, I love dogs!
Tiffany: Remember, service animals are on the job, and you should not pet or talk to them. Like a wheelchair, service animals are part of the voter’s personal space. Don’t interact with the voter over the service animal. Step to the other side to talk to the voter.
Susie: Oh, okay. Tiffany?
Susie: How can I assist voters who are blind or have low vision?
Tiffany: Just ask them how you can best assist them. For example, you may ask them if they would like to be guided. If they say yes, you may offer your arm and help to guide the voter to their polling division. Just put the back of your hand against the back of theirs, and they may take your arm.
Susie: Oh, you don’t hold their hand?
Tiffany: No, Susie. You let the person take your arm. They may follow just a half step behind you to make sure they are able to navigate any directional changes in your path.
Susie: Oh, okay. I get it.
Tiffany: For voters who are blind or have low vision, Elections Saskatchewan provides a braille ballot template with holes for marking votes. Each hole lines up with a voting option on the ballot. The Deputy Returning Officer can encourage the person to feel the template and can also demonstrate how to fold the ballot after voting.
Susie: Oh, okay!
Tiffany: Once the ballot is in the template, the Deputy Returning Officer may offer to guide the voter to the voting booth. There will be a light available in the voting booth, as well as a magnification aid to make the voting process easier. Step well away to give the voter privacy. Braille is not used by all people who are blind or who have low vision, so the Deputy Returning Officer may assist by reading the ballot out loud either before voting or from nearby while the voter is marking their ballot, or can even mark the ballot for the voter. However, most people want to vote themselves. Your job is to help them to vote, not to do it for them, unless they specifically request it. The voter returns the template, and then may be guided in putting the ballot into the box. You may then offer to guide the voter to the exit.
Susie: What if someone makes a mistake on their ballot?
Tiffany: If any voter makes a mistake, he or she can ask for a new ballot.
Susie: Oh, that’s cool. Oh, and Tiffany?
Susie: What if I’m not sure whether someone needs assistance?
Tiffany: Well, the important thing is to just make things easier for the voter, any way you can, and ask if they need assistance. (narrating) It’s not always easy to know if someone might require assistance. Not all disabilities are visible. If someone seems confused, worried, or unsure of what they need to do, listen carefully, and explain clearly. Every eligible voter has the right to vote. A friend of family member can help with things like marking the ballot and placing the ballot into the ballot box. One person can help up to two voters who need assistance. For some people, English is not a first language. The voters’ guide…
Susie: Voters’ guide!
Tiffany: That’s right, Susie. The voters’ guide that was delivered to all Saskatchewan residents before voting day is available in other languages. Elections Saskatchewan’s goal is to make is easy for everyone to vote. For example, homebound voting is an option for voters who can’t leave their home. By calling for an appointment before voting day, homebound voters can arrange for a visit from Elections Saskatchewan and then they can vote right in their own home. Voting places are also set up in hospitals and care homes for patients and residents, and advance voting is offered at some locations. Absentee voting, or ‘voting by mail’, is also an option for anyone who is away on Election Day. (narrating) Elections Saskatchewan also provides things that might help make voting easier, like clipboards to hold ballots in places to write on and pencil grips.
Susie: (narrating) Wow, that looks like fun. I want to be a Deputy Return Officer and give people ballots. Here, Tiffany!
Tiffany: Thanks, Susie, but I thought you wanted to be an Information Officer.
Susie: I can’t decide!
Tiffany: There are a lot of great jobs on voting day. (narrating) You already heard about the Information Officer…
Susie: (narrating) Who greets voters!
Tiffany: That’s right! And the Deputy Returning Officer, who is in charge of the ballot box and…
Susie: Who gives people ballots!
Tiffany: Yes, and there is also the Poll Clerk, who checks the voters off the registered voter list and enters their names in the poll book, the Registration Officer, who can register eligible voters right at the voting place on voting day, Security Officers, who keep voters within the polling place, messengers, who pick up and deliver items between polling places, and, in some larger voting places, Supervisory Deputy Returning Officers, who make sure everything runs smoothly.
Susie: Wow, I want all the jobs!
Tiffany: (laughs) Okay, Susie. No matter which job you do, the most important thing is to do what you can to give people a positive experience while voting. Just ask, “How can I best assist you?”
Susie: How can I best assist you?
Tiffany: Perfect. So, Susie, did this video give you more confidence in the ways you can assist voters?
Susie: You bet!
Tiffany: Great. Elections Saskatchewan’s goal is to be as accommodating as possible. In some cases, advance voting, voting at home, or voting by mail may be the best solution. With enough notice, every attempt with be made to come up with the best accommodation plan. Any voter who might need extra assistance, or an elections worker who knows of a voter in their community who may need extra accommodations is encouraged to contact Elections Saskatchewan well before voting day. You can find out more about Election Day opportunities, accessibility, and other information about voting in Saskatchewan at (marker squeaks) elections.sk.ca or by calling (marker squeaks) 1-877-958-8683.
Susie: Thanks, Tiffany!
Tiffany: Thank you, Susie!
Susie: That was an awesome video.
Tiffany: And that is an awesome dress.
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