Karen Kostelac was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years after casting her first vote in an election. Karen has spent the last 41 years since then championing the right to vote for all. Whether serving as the presiding judge for Columbus’ 8th Ward (Ohio), working polling locations for more than 14 hours on election days, or dressing up in costume to give people a smile as they walk into the polls — Karen is there.
“I’m all in, but you don’t have to be all in. You just have to be aware,” says Karen. Having worked at early voting stations, she recommends that people living with MS take advantage of early voting accommodations. “I’ve helped people with everything from vision impairments to gait problems. Giving people the opportunity to vote early gets people in the door so that they can take the time they need without being fatigued by long lines. We’ve timed my area and the longest line I’ve ever had was 17 minutes long…and that included getting through the door, voting and getting back outside. I am proud of that.”
Karen also serves as an appointment member of the Columbus Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (CACDI) where she advises city officials on disability issues. Their goal is to help solve problems before they happen, as Karen says, “sometimes our elected officials are just unaware.”
Karen likes to remind fellow MS activists that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us: “Post-election don’t forget to keep in touch with your elected officials. Let them know that you are out there, you are following them, and that you’re an MS activist!”
Join Karen in her passion for voting