Visually-impaired man felt ‘defeated’ after trying to vote in Kingston

Click to play video: 'A Kingston man says he was unable to vote because of his visual disability' A Kingston man says he was unable to vote because of his visual disability
WATCH: Zack Lee says he had a bad experience when he tried to vote in Monday's federal election. He said at first, he was not allowed to have his mother assist him to vote – Oct 23, 2019

A Kingston man who is visually impaired says his bad experience at a polling station on Monday stopped him from casting a ballot.

Zack Lee, a 25-year-old Kingston resident, says he was unable to vote for the first time on Monday after asking for assistance at a polling station.

READ MORE: Lindsay, Ont., man accused of removing ballot from polling station

He says he was first given a magnifying glass to help read the ballot and told only a staffer could help him, but Lee asked if he could have his mother help him instead.

Lee claims staffers initially refused to let his mother help him.

“I wasn’t comfortable with it because I wouldn’t be able to see what they were actually doing with the ballot,” Lee told Global News on Wednesday.

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Lee said the interaction caused him to have a panic attack, so he left the polling station, located in an apartment building on Leroy Grant Drive, to go sit in the family car.

He says the whole experience was extremely embarrassing for him, to the point where he became ill.

“[I] thought I was going to throw up right in the car,” he said.
Click to play video: 'Federal election breakdown with Queen’s political expert Kathy Brock' Federal election breakdown with Queen’s political expert Kathy Brock
Federal election breakdown with Queen’s political expert Kathy Brock – Oct 22, 2019

According to Elections Canada, Lee’s mother is considered a support person, so she could have assisted her son to vote after taking an oath of secrecy.

Lee says this option was offered to him after his mother went to speak to another person at the polling station, but Lee says he didn’t feel strong enough go back in and vote.

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“I felt defeated that I was not going to be able to vote,” Lee said. “And I lost my opportunity, even after they said she would have been able to assist me, everything had already happened.”

Despite his bad experience, Lee doesn’t blame the poll worker. He believes this most likely was caused by a lack of electoral education. He simply hopes to have a better experience next time.

“It shouldn’t have been a problem and I’ve been talking to other people,” he said. “It wasn’t a problem for them.”

—With files from Alexandra Mazur.

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