OE getting out the vote
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 12, 2012 7:34PM
Ellen Spellar of Valparaiso, Ind., signs her voter registration form with Christi Brooks at the Opportunity Enterprises Count Me In! voter drive in Valparaiso on Oct. 3, 2012. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
For more information about Opportunity Enterprises, visit the website www.oppent.org or call 464-9621.
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:27AM
Danielle Chumbley is excited to vote for the first time in the upcoming general election.
And, with the help of Opportunity Enterprises in Valparaiso, Chumbley, one of the agency’s clients, was able to register.
“It was easy to do that,” she said with the help of a keyboard communication device shortly after she registered, something she said she wouldn’t have done had the option not been available at OE.
The agency for people with disabilities participated in its first County Me In! voter registration drive, a collaboration with the state with the goal of engaging people with disabilities in their right to vote, said Valerie Thill, senior director of social services at OE.
“We want them to be an active part of our community, just as you and I are,” she said during the drive.
Besides voter registration, the event also featured a poster presentation about the major races on the Nov. 6 ballot, including the presidency, governor, Indiana Legislature, and U.S. House and Senate seats.
As a client looked over the display and talked about the presidential candidate for whom he would vote, Thill offered some advice.
“You want to study up and see if he believes in the same things you believe in,” she said.
Thill hoped 15 to 20 OE clients would sign up. Once registered, they will vote on Election Day at the polling place where they live. Clients who registered received red, white and blue rubber bracelets that read, “We got the power.”
The event also gave families the chance to get on the waiting list for waiver funding to receive services through OE and other agencies that serve people with disabilities. The waiting list to receive a waiver had been 11 years, Thill said, but state officials hope to clear the waiting list in five years. Families on the waiting list must pay for services out of pocket or go without them.
“Sometimes, you fall through the cracks, so part of this is awareness,” she said. “The sooner they sign up, the better.
“We were so excited to think that maybe these people can be off the list in five years.”