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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Subtle Barrier to Voting

In The Politics of Autism, I write:  "Support from the general public will be an important political asset for autistic people. Another will be their sheer numbers, since a larger population of identified autistic adults will mean more autistic voters and activists"

At WFPL-FM In Louisville, Lisa Gillespie reports that complaints about voting access can lead to change.
That’s what happened in the case of 26-year-old Lexington resident Amelia Mullins, who has severe autism and gave permission for her mother, Wendy Wheeler-Mullins, to speak on her behalf.

“When [Amelia] gets anxious, she tends to recite TV shows and movies, verbatim, kind of a self-calming mechanism,” Wheeler-Mullins said. “I think that’s what made the people look at us like, this person doesn’t have a brain in her head, she shouldn’t be voting.”
The two had a particularly bad voting experience in 2015, where they faced what Wheeler-Mullins called “judgmental, skeptical” looks from poll workers.
“I just got the impression that they thought like, I was trying to buy her vote or something,” Wheeler-Mullins said. “They didn’t stop her from voting, but their behavior would have been a discouragement to someone from voting.”
Wheeler-Mullins said she complained and was told poll workers would be spoken with and receive more training.