Independent Perspective 1721 with Todd Vaarwerk on the Importance of Participating in the November 8 General Election
Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Todd Vaarwerk, Chief Policy Officer of WNYIL and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome back to the program, Todd.
Guest: Always good to be here.
Host: And it's our pleasure because you are a person with knowledge in a broad range of activities, particularly public affairs, politics and whatnot. Over the last week or two, the three member agencies of WNYIL have had Meet the Candidates fora to let people talk to those running in the November 8 election to get to make a more informed decision. That leaves open the question for a great many people. Why is there a particular interest of people with disabilities in either going to their polling place on November 8, or getting an absentee ballot? What is your main rationale?
Guest: Above and beyond the belief that every vote counts, everybody will tell you in public affairs that you know every vote counts. They'll tell you those stories of the 1871 election where it was one vote in the Electoral College that decided the presidency. I'm going to say to you that as a person with a disability, voting is a key component of making sure that you get the services that you need in order to live where you want to live, because you're picking the people that are setting the budget priorities for those things to happen. So, if it matters to you, you're going to vote for the candidate that's going to best reflect your issues. I say for all the listeners here, I don't prescribe who you vote for. That's not my decision. That's your decision. But what I am going to tell you is that your vote is important because even if you don't vote for the guy that wins the fact that you did vote is actually recorded. And incumbent people in public office, pay very close attention to people that they know will vote even if they're not necessarily members of their party.
Host: Well, that sounds like a good reason all in and of itself. I imagine some people are probably wondering, is it really that important that I vote for people in the lower rank positions, the town justices, highway superintendents, town councilman and whatnot. But I think you have an answer for that.
Guest: Of course, it's important you vote for those people because I hate to say this to people, but political careers have to start somewhere. Right? The person that you're voting for, for a state assemblyman or state senator this year, at one time had those jobs. He was a town councilman. He was a school board member. It was a dog catcher. All right. He was he was a person who started with a political career who ran for higher office. So, all of those positions are important, because you don't know where those people are going to end up. After they've gotten a taste of public service. You know, tomorrow's today's dog catcher could be tomorrow's state senator.
Host: Well, that sounds like a certainly a good reason to do that. Do you know are they are any of the agencies offering transportation to the polling sites?
Guest: WNYIL will help anybody who needs to get to their polling place to cast a vote, get to their polling place to cast the vote. It's one of our chief priorities in terms of making sure that everybody casts their ballots. If you need assistance, being able to get your polling place to cast your vote we recommend that you call Independence Express 716-836-0822 extension 150. I’d do it now. Just to make sure that you know you can get in and on the schedule. The other thing I want to be able to remind folks about is regardless of what your disability is, there is an accessible way for you to cast your ballot. And you should go to your polling place and use your assessable ballot marking devices whether it's the Dominion device in Niagara and Genesee County, or one more year with the with the AutoMark in Erie County. I wholeheartedly encourage you to use the ballot marking devices. It makes voting much easier.
Host: Todd, we're totally out of time. How can people get a hold of you if they have other questions?
Guest: 716-8360822 extension 101.
Host: Thanks so much for being with us.
Guest: Always a pleasure.
Host: You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Todd Vaarwerk, Chief Policy Officer of WNYIL and I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.