West TN organization help clients make election decisions

SRVS teaches importance of voting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Pew Research Institute said voter engagement is high with millions expected to cast their ballot in the upcoming election. One West Tennessee organization is making sure their clients, mainly adults with disabilities, know they have the right to vote.

At 66 years old, Charlotte Ashe is doing something for the first time ever this year. She’s going to vote. Ashe and her Direct Support Personnel Betty Ammons said she’s learned a lot from SRVS' self-advocacy classes focused on voting.

“She has a voice, and I want her to use it and do the things she wants,” Ammons said.

SRVS assists people with disabilities across West Tennessee. Ginny Oceguera, SRVS' Quality Outcomes Manager, said several times a month she leads a self-advocacy class. Each session is led by things the clients want to talk about.

This time of year that usually means voting.

“Last year we taught them how to register to vote, how to fill out a ballot,” Oceguera said. “They know it’s voting season but what day do I vote on? Where is my polling location?”

But Oceguera said the program isn’t meant to be the clients' voice, only a microphone for them.

“Not only do they need to know that it is important to vote, but why it’s important to vote,” Oceguera said. “How to be an informed voter. How to vote for someone with your values.”

“One of the things with Charlotte is we like to go on the internet and look at each candidate and their platforms,” Ammons said.

For most of her 66 years, Ashe wasn’t sure she could vote. She plans to vote early and is still trying to figure out how she feels about the whole thing.

“I think she’s more nervous than anything,” Ammons said.

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