Preparing for Elections and Voting: Meet Brooke
Voting for people serving in elected offices is important to my family. From the years my great-grandmother spent all day driving the elderly to voting places to the months my mother took me to Virginia’s state capital to share our family story in support of funding for early intervention and Medicaid Waiver services.
I was born at 28 weeks gestation and as a result of massive brain bleeding, have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and cortical visual impairment. I do not have a voice or augmentative communication device. My non-verbal behavior is how I communicate. None of this has stopped me from voting since my first election that was held five months after I turned 18.
This is how I prepare for elections and voting. From June through October, my mother shares information with me about the major candidates from their websites and from TV debates. She asks me who I would like to vote for – my mother’s right hand is the option for one candidate and her left hand is the option for another candidate, and my father’s right hand could be the option for a 3rd party candidate (if there is one) and his left hand is the option for “I don’t like any of these candidates.” I have to touch or slap the hand that represents my preferred candidate. But, my parent’s will switch up the hand options to make sure I am not just hitting the same hand over and over. That preferred candidate option might be my mother’s right hand one time, then next time she asks, it is my father’s right hand, then the next time she asks, it is my father’s left hand. You get the idea. We do it one last time before we leave to go vote the first Tuesday of November.
When I get to the voting precinct, I have the option of voting from the car, but I like to go into the building unless the voting line is really, really long. I give the volunteers my ID and they allow my mother or father to go into a voting booth to help me push buttons or touch the screen. It is important to note that my parents are not my legal guardians. They do hold power of attorney that includes language for supporting me to vote, but the voting precinct has never asked us for that paperwork (we do carry it with us just in case). I trust my parents are pressing the right button/touching the screen for the candidate I have indicated to them as my choice.
Brooke Yarbrough is a young woman who in spite of physical, intellectual ,and sensory disabilities opened her own dog boarding business one month after graduating high school with an IEP Diploma. Brooke lives in Richmond Virginia with her family.