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Category: Voting Accessibility

Voters with Disabilities Find Accessibility Issues Nationally and Locally

Washington, D.C., Nov. 20 – Voters from across the country faced long lines, malfunctioning machines and a lack of trained workers on during the 2018 midterm elections. In some parts of the country, voters were forced to wait for hours, only to find that their voting precinct was not equipped with the correct facilities to handle a large turnout. To voters without disabilities, these obstacles may come across as a hindrance or annoyance. For voters with disabilities, however, lack of accessible technology, long wait times and voting rules can disenfranchise them from the system.

A National Issue

The problems with the election were widespread across the country. In Atlanta, home to a contentious Georgia Governor’s race, one precinct was equipped with only three electronic machines to serve nearly 3,000 voters. In Brooklyn, voters were forced to wait while poll workers rushed to repair ballot scanners as a line slowly wrapped around the precinct outside. In North Dakota, Native American voters found themselves being turned away from trying to cast provisional ballots. It became clear that across the country even voters without disabilities faced obstacles in trying to vote.

Disability Voter Resource Guide 2018

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – As voters head to the polls, many are concerned about various access issues from physical accessibility to voter ID laws. This is a federal election year; additionally, many state legislative seats, state executive offices, local offices and ballot amendments will be voted on. We’ve compiled…

National Voter Registration Day 2018 – Reflections from a Voter with a Disability

Hi, my name is Stephanie Farfan and I have never stepped foot inside a polling station. Yet, I’ve voted in every election I have been old enough to vote. I always have gotten an absentee ballot from my home state of Florida. This is because as someone with a physical disability,…

Voters with Disabilities Matter – This Year and Every Year

National Voter Registration Day logoWashington, Sept. 26 – RespectAbility is honored to participate in the sixth annual National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), a nonpartisan effort to encourage people to register to vote and make their voices heard in our nation’s political process. Today, organizations nationwide will register thousands of new voters.

However, if you read the news today, many people might feel discouraged, disconnected or unconvinced that their voices matter. Last year, it was clear that getting the vote out mattered with the high stakes of a presidential race and key Senate contests across the country. What about this year? Why should people get out, get registered and get out the voter in a quiet year like 2017? The reason is simple.

As the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” Did you know that 59 of the 100 largest cities in America are holding elections this year? Did you know there are 36 mayoral races and more than 360 city council races in 2017 alone? In communities across the country, local, municipal and state elections are taking place this year.

Vital Disability Voter Info

Washington, Nov. 8 – Below you will find  four up-to-the-minute resources to help you this election: State-by-state voter guides on what specifically candidates for president, governor and senate are saying on disability issues. Guides broken down by issue from candidates across the county. Straight Q&A’s with candidates on disability issues…

Disability Voter Resource Guide

Washington, Nov. 7 – As voters get ready to head to the polls tomorrow, many are concerned about various access issues from physical accessibility to voter ID laws. We’ve compiled resources provided by general Election Day voter rights organizations as well as those provided by various disability groups. See below for…

Candidates Talk Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Washington, Nov. 3 – In theory, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened the door to employment for many people with physical disabilities by requiring that buildings be physically accessible. In practice, however, workplace accessibility for many people with disabilities is far from universal.

Many employers have offices in buildings that predate the ADA and therefore don’t have elevators, accessible bathrooms or necessary assistive technology for people of all abilities to be able to work there. In addition, the ADA exempts companies with fewer than 15 employees from having to abide by ADA standards, so many miss out on a chance to work for a smaller organization.

Therefore, as part of the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire, the nonpartisan, nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility asked candidates running for president, senate or governor about their plans to address this issue. Every candidate was given an equal opportunity to respond and if they are not listed, it is because they declined to answer.

Many campaigns lack basic accessibility – from websites being accessible for people using screen readers to videos lacking captions for the 37.5 million American adults who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, not all campaign events are ADA accessible, including parking, entrances and bathrooms. Many lacked ASL interpreters and live captioning services.

The quotes in this article are the candidates’ answers to questions 1 and 2 in the gubernatorial/senate questionnaire: “Do you have designated advisors and clear processes for making decisions on disability issues? Is your campaign accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities?” These were adapted from similar questions, numbers 1 and 11, in the presidential questionnaire.

In Delaware, both candidates for the open gubernatorial seat have worked to ensure they have accessible campaigns by seeking input from both family members and constituents with disabilities. Whomever wins will have big shoes to fill as current Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who is term limited, is a hero to the disability community. Markell was awarded recognition by RespectAbility this summer for his leadership nationally in creating more job opportunities for people with disabilities.

“I have learned about disability issues from constituent calls seeking assistance as well as disability community meetings as a member of the legislature,” Republican State Sen. Colin Bonini replied. “We hold meet and greets at various locations including restaurants. We ask the locations if their events are accessible prior to setting an event up and it is our goal to hold events at locations that are accessible.”

“I have strong relationships with members of Delaware’s disabilities community, and I rely on them for advice and guidance on how to best serve the needs of those with disabilities,” Democrat Rep. John Carney replied. “My campaign welcomes all Delawareans to share their thoughts and concerns about the future of our state. We ensure that our offices and community events are always accessible for anyone who wishes to participate in the election process.”

Check out all of the candidates’ full responses below:

Recognizing the Impact of Voters with Disabilities on National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day logoWashington, Sept. 27 – Today, we celebrate National Voter Registration Day. With the election only 41 days away, time is running out for people to complete their voter registration. As we encourage all voters to ensure they are registered, it also is important to call attention to the importance of voting rights by talking about barriers that keep people from exercising their right to vote.

This day comes at a critical time not only for the presidential election but also for the one in five Americans who have a disability. The electoral power and political impact of voters with disabilities are being recognized like never before. From front page news stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post to groundbreaking political research by Pew Research Center and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Americans with disabilities are being recognized as a potentially decisive voting bloc. Just this past week, Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech about disability employment.

Recognizing the Power of Voters with Disability: Polling, Marching, Voting

a voter with a disability casting his ballotWashington, Sept. 20 – Last week, statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog published an in-depth article examining the potential electoral impact of voters with disabilities in the 2016 election. This article, entitled “One in Six Eligible Voters Has A Disability,” documents in great detail the diverse demographics of the disability community and describes some of the crucial barriers impacting voting rights for people with disabilities.

Reporting on a new study from Rutgers University, FiveThirtyEight stated that “approximately one-sixth of November’s electorate will be comprised of people with disabilities” for a total of “34.6 million” eligible voters with disabilities. This new report also finds that the number of eligible voting-age people with disabilities is growing faster than potential voters without disabilities.

This research confirms past efforts by RespectAbility to estimate the potential power of voters with disabilities to swing the outcomes of competitive elections. In 2014, RespectAbility collaborated with Republican and Democratic pollsters on a survey of likely voters in battle-ground states. In total, this survey found that 56 percent of likely voters identified as people with disabilities and/or had a close friend or family member with a disability.

“We are accustomed to thinking about ‘soccer moms,’ ‘Hispanics’ or ‘values voters.’ But this poll shows that Americans with disabilities – and those who care deeply about them – are a demographic we need to pay attention to in the future,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres stated at the time.

Inaccessible Polling Places Disenfranchise Nation’s Largest Minority

Washington, Sept. 22 – Today, our nation observes National Voter Registration Day. It is a chance to celebrate our democratic society and to remind everyday people the importance of registering to vote. However, for many Americans, voting is not a quick and easy process. Physical and other barriers at polling…