Autism: How to make election voting processes easy
Since Canada's federal election was last week, I share my experiences with my voting and tips for how people on the spectrum who have not voted before can explore this topic and the process appropriately for their first election.
Know where to go
My neighbourhood voting took place in a high school (Not the one I went to). I was initially confused as to why people were walking towards the school's back instead of the front door. Afterward, I approached the front door and saw a sign that said, "Enter door 'x'". I followed the crowd to the door, lined up and went inside without issues. Relating this to my autism, it is often difficult to pick up on rules as fast as others. Many people probably would have immediately followed the crowd as soon as they entered the property, but I went to the door and read the sign before doing so.
According to WebMD, people with autism can be concrete thinkers. If there are arrows or signs to guide a person to where they are supposed to go, that is a big plus. It's a good thing there were signs to tell voters where to go, or else I would've been confused.
As always, if you do have trouble knowing where you're supposed to go, I suggest you ask someone nearby who looks approachable.
Integrityinc says crowds can lead to anxiety and distress for autistic people. The voting place will also likely be quite crowded, even at its less busy points. If this might be a problem for you, see if a family member or a friend can go with you to make it easier.
For me, crowds can be hard at times, mostly because of some of my motor deficits. There were a couple of points where I stood in a staircase room on my phone while I watched people walk by.
Understand the voting process
According to Indiana University Bloomington, organizational difficulties are common with autism. I've gotten better at organization over the years, but I occasionally need people to remind me of certain items or information.
Even though voting booths often have pencils, you can use your own pencil, encase there are none. My mother reminded me to bring a pencil, and I did so.
Also, have the correct details to show the person at the booth. I brought my health card, which has my name and date of birth but doesn't have my address. The person asked me for my address to vote, and I opened an email on my phone with an order receipt I purchased a while ago to show him my address. He let me vote after that.
With these details, you should ensure you have solid proof (Health card, document) and not write them on a piece of paper. These people do not want to detect fraud. If you think you may have trouble remembering this stuff, I recommend you make a list and see if you have everything.
Should I discuss my vote with others?
As people on the spectrum can have challenges knowing how to handle social situations, this is a good question to consider.
As tempting as it may be to tell others who you voted for, I would limit this conversation topic to family, people you know who share your political views or simply super trustworthy and understanding people.
Many of us are already vulnerable to others because of our autism challenges. If people who don't fully respect you find out that your views oppose theirs, it may only give them more reason to look down or even ridicule you.
Shortly after the election, I asked a few people if they voted, they said yes and we left it at that. We didn't discuss who we voted.
If you are organized, prepared and understand voting etiquette and what to expect, everything will work out well during the voting process.
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