A conscientious vote for a young woman with Down syndrome | Northern Ontario Browser

During a walk in Moonbeam, the young woman saw hundreds of election signs that caught her attention.

The young athlete, who is known in the region for her exploits in swimming and figure skating in the Special Olympics, suddenly started asking her mother a thousand questions.

I tried to explain to him. “It’s like when you go to work, you have a boss who is in charge, who makes the decisions.” I told him it was time to choose a boss for the province of Ontariorecalls Jenna’s mother, Simone Knowles.

A young woman at the Knowles Building Centre.

Jenna Knowles works at the Knowles Building Center in Kapuskasing.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jimmy Chabot

This colorful response piqued Jenna’s curiosity.

In order to make her choice, Jenna and her mother scoured the web for information on the candidates in the riding of Mushkegowuk—Baie-James.

Promotional banner of our file on the 2022 elections in Ontario.

Jenna doesn’t really have the ability to read flyers, so we relied on Facebook. We went to find the Facebook pages of the local candidatesadds Simone, adding that her daughter seemed interested in candidates who had videos.

How do you not impose your choice on your child? Simone then bursts out laughing as she answers the question.

That’s the difficulty, because me and my husband have discussions in our house. Often she hears the discussions, maybe she doesn’t understand everything. First, because my husband is English-speaking and the subjects are often too complicated for her. »

A quote from Simone Knowles

We try not to influence him, but sometimes it’s difficultadds Simone Knowles.

Jenna says that during this election, she didn’t divulge which name she put an X next to. She simply replies with a nod that she had a good time voting early on May 25.

A young woman rides a bicycle.

Jenna Knowles is a very curious young girl when she rides her bike at Rémi Lake or not far from her work in Kapuskasing.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jimmy Chabot

His mother was nearby to help him. She guided her to the poll worker, helped her open the ballot and accompanied her to the voting booth.

Ballot in hand, smile on her lips, Jenna Knowles voted according to her convictions. The poll worker, who knew Jenna, said loud and clear that she was proud of the woman she had become.

Did you know that?

People with disabilities were among the last to gain the right to vote in Canada. It took until 1993 for Parliament to change the Canada Elections Act to stop excluding them.

Measures to ensure accessibility

Earlier this spring, Autism Ontario surveyed adults living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to find out their top election-related concerns, says Michael Cnudde, communications specialist for the organization.

The main concerns we observed for those going to vote for the first time were the complexity of the voting process, access to polling stations and the availability of adapted services on site. »

A quote from Michael Cnudde, Communications Specialist for Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario has prepared tip sheets to make voting easier, for example on the voter registration process or the different ways to vote.

The organization has also prepared a tool kit for claims related to the issues of people with ASD or their relatives.

Mr. Cnudde believes that Elections Ontario is doing a good job overall to make voting accessible, although there is still progress to be made.

In particular, there is advance voting, for people who don’t like crowds, for example.

There are also sign language interpretation services that can be provided upon request.he adds.

He also points out that the Elections Ontario website contains a lot of useful information.

In an email, Nicole Taylor, spokesperson for Elections Ontario, says a lot of effort is being made to ensure that all voters can vote.

Election workers are trained to provide accessible service, showing respect for people with disabilities by allowing them to make their own access choices with the tools and services needed to successfully navigate the voting process. »

A quote from Nicole Taylor, spokesperson for Elections Ontario

Ms. Taylor gives some examples of the measures put in place to facilitate voting:

  • Allowing curbside voting, where the ballot is brought outside the polling place by an election worker.
  • Allow an attendant to help the elector with communication, travel and other needs.
  • Allow the use of telephones and other electronic devices as tools to promote accessibility, including interpretation applications.
  • Voting at home.


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