Open Letter to the Chair of the Nevada Democratic Party

January 21, 2008

Dear Jill Derby, Chairperson of Nevada Democratic Party,

After I had a discussion with several deaf colleagues regarding our experiences at Nevada Democratic Caucus last Saturday, we unanimously agreed that our experience were pretty unpleasant. I would like to share my experience about the caucus with you and others in order to learn from this and improve in the future. Today is perfect timing for me to write this letter because Dr. Martin Luther King is a symbol of a progressive civil rights movement in our country.

When I arrived at John Tartan Elementary School, which held two different precincts, a volunteer directed me to go to another precinct by walking to different school area. A volunteer at the different precinct directed me back to the original precinct. Several volunteers spoke to me as they thought that I can read their lips clearly. I do not lipread, I communicate by American Sign Language but I am able to communicate through other means such as writing on paper pads et al. I absolutely had no idea what they attempted to speak with me. I recognized my former UNLV graduate classmate in special education field and sat next to her. The precinct captain or coordinator lectured us about the caucus process. I asked my friend to help me by writing down on the notebook so that I can understand the process. When the speaker instructed us to pick a candidate, we went to the ‘candidate corners’ in the room. I felt handcuffed because I did not have the opportunity to persuade uncommitted voters or voters from other candidates to switch to my preferred candidate. Many of us felt disfranchised from being part of the whole process and ultimately, it discouraged us to participate in this so-called “fair political process”.

It is a serious matter because your organization failed to be in compliance with the American With Disabilities Act (ADA). Under Title III, no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. However, we prefer to work with you to solve this problem instead taking a legal action at the court. The goal is to deal, learn and improve this terrible incident so that all of us can work and participate in the future with Nevada Democratic Caucus.

Here is a list of recommended solutions that we would like to implement for next caucus:

1) Set up a single-venue for Deaf Caucus so we can communicate through our common language
2) Provide interpreters at the precinct that a deaf person(s) requests with one-week notice in advance.

3) Abandon Caucus and return to an old-fashioned method – Primary, which is simpler and convenient for general voters.

For your information, I am going to fax this letter to Honorable Senator Harry Reid, who is the Mastermind of this caucus concept, and Nancy Bloch, the Executive Director of National Association of the Deaf (NAD) first thing in the morning. I also will share this letter to notable Democratic officials and community leaders in the area.

Sincerely Yours,
Denny Voreck, M.Ed.
Chair of Clark County Democratic Deaf Caucus


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