NYAPRS Note:The following comes from NYAPRS intern David Martino.
Twenty-one million people with disabilities did not vote [in the 2000 elections].That made the Americans with disabilities the single largest demographic group of nonvoters in the United States of America, according to former Senator Chris Dodd(D-CT).
In order to build the power we need to best shape national, state and local policy we need to devote full attention to creating a voting block. The first step is, of course, getting millions more to register to vote
Please publicize The REV UP Campaign and participate at online voter registration (https://register2.rockthevote.com/registrants/map/?partner=34861).
Also, please read the following call to action from the National Council on Disability, and see a list of concrete steps you can take to help make our voices heard on election day and beyond!
NCD Encourages People with Disabilities to Register to Vote
The constitutional right to vote—privately and independently— and whatever one’s political affiliation, is an invaluable cornerstone of civic participation in democracy. But in order for that right to truly matter, Americans with disabilities have to exercise it. A vote can’t be counted if it isn’t cast.
At a Capitol Hill policy briefing the National Council on Disability (NCD) convened in 2013, former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), author of the Help America Vote Act, detailed the scope of inaccessibility in the 2000 elections: “Twenty-one million people with disabilities did not vote,” Dodd said. “That made the disabled communities the single largest demographic group of nonvoters in the United States of America. At that time, only 16 percent of polling places were physically accessible. And not one, not one of the nearly 500 polling locations which the General Accounting Office (GAO) visited on Election Day in 2000, had special ballots adapted for blind voters.”
Things weren’t much better in 2008 when the GAO reported that only 27 percent of polling places had eliminated all barriers for voters with disabilities. More recently, NCD conducted an open-ended questionnaire of nearly 900 voters with disabilities after the November 2012 election suggested that not much had changed since GAO’s 2008 survey. Long lines and inaccessible voting materials make barriers to civic participation for voters with disabilities even more striking.
Sadly, more than 3.2 million Americans with disabilities felt “sidelined” on Election Day according to a 2012 USA Today article. That same year voter turnout was 11 percent lower among people with disabilities than with those who are not disabled. Perhaps the best way of shifting this perception is for the disability community to mobilize by increasing the number of registered disabled voters who cast their ballots on Election Day, and draw attention to the obstacles encountered in every instance.
Thankfully, efforts to reverse these trends appear to be gaining momentum.
The American Association of Persons with Disabilities has designated July 11-15 as National Disability Voter Registration Week “to increase the political power of disabled voters while also “engaging candidates and the media to recognize the disability community.”
The number of potential voters with disabilities are significant and, if successful, could easily influence the outcome of ballot initiatives and elected candidates.According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of Americans with disabilities is now one in five between the ages of 18 and 64, totaling 56.7 million or nearly 19 percent of our population. That is a massive constituency. One whose influence on election results should not be “sidelined.”
By registering to vote during National Disability Voter Registration Week this week, July 11-15, and encouraging others to do the same, the disability community can ensure that its voice, both collectively and as individuals, will be heard this election year and beyond. NCD encourages all people with disabilities—including senior citizens and veterans--to register to vote and to exercise their Constitutional right to vote in the elections in November for the candidates of their choice.
It's Time toRevUPfor National Disability Voter Registration Week! July 11-15, 2016.
The Rev UP Campaign is coordinating National Disability Voter Registration Week to increase the political power of people with disabilities while also engaging candidates and the media to recognize the disability community.
Register to Vote Online!In partnership with Rock The Vote, the Rev UP Campaign is now able to offer an online registration tool.
Other ways toRevUPfor National Disability Voter Registration Week:
- Hold a press event or conference withlocal partners to announce national and local efforts to get new people with disabilities registered to vote, educated on disability issues, and committed to get out the DISABILITY VOTE. If possible, coordinate multiple sites around your state to hostpress events at the same time.Download a press release template here.
- Organize a rally of voters with disabilities and disability advocates to promote the REV UP message and the power of the DISABILITY VOTE.
- Write letters to the editor orOp-Eds and engage local radio or TV stations on the growing efforts by the disability community to become an influential voice in electoral politics this November andbeyond.
- Utilize your mail, email, and social media networks to provide information on voter registration and relevant disability issues in your area while also encouraging people to commit to vote on Election Day.View sample social media posts here.
- Host a workshop or training on state voter registration rules as well as your rights as a person with a disability.
- Collect Data on voters with disabilities in your area – this will help us build a broader movement to show the power of the disability voting bloc.
- Include REV UP and voter registrationtables atupcoming events (especially any events around the 26th anniversary of the ADA).
- Connect with other disability rights and voting rights organizations in your area.
- Make your organization a polling place (Resources:How To Serve As A Polling SiteandADA Polling Place Checklist).
- Go to your City Council, County Commissioner, State Representative, etc. to get the week of 7/11 – 7/15 declared DISABILITY VOTER REGISTRATION WEEK (a draft Resolution is available here).
We want to hear from you!
Are you planning a voter registration drive, press conference, voting rights workshop, or other event? Let us know! We're trying to build a national effort to demonstrate the power of the DISABILITY VOTE. And we'd be happy to promote your event on ourState Resources and Events page. Please send all events details [or contact us here if you would like to add the voter registration tool to your website to track registrations]:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your commitment to making the DISABILITY VOTE count!