Washington, Oct. 18 – As voters get ready to head to the polls in Nebraska, RespectAbility is releasing its Nebraska Disability Voter Guide for the upcoming presidential election. Democrat Hillary Clinton has completed the #PwDsVote Disability Campaign Questionnaire, but Republican Donald Trump has yet to do so.
The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire was designed by and for people with disabilities (PwDs) and those who love them to know where candidates stand on key issues. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls.
The presidential questionnaire was created during the primary season and asked all of the presidential candidates to comment on 16 disability questions. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded by addressing all of the questions. Despite numerous requests in person and by phone and email, the Trump campaign has not yet filled out the questionnaire. The American Association of People with Disabilities and the National Council on Independent Living also has a nonpartisan presidential questionnaire, which both Clinton and Trump have completed. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have not filled out either questionnaire.
Twenty-six candidates for Senate, as well as eleven candidates for governor, from both sides of the aisle (22 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 1 Green Party) also completed the down ballot questionnaire, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. An additional nine candidates responded that they are not completing any questionnaires during this campaign season. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states all around the country, as politicians are paying more and more attention to the disability community.
Nebraska Improves Outcomes for Citizens with Disabilities
Nebraska is a national leader when it comes to the employment of people with disabilities. Currently, 45.5 percent of the 205,354 Nebraskans with disabilities between the ages of 18-64 are employed. Further, there are more than 5,500 youth with disabilities between the ages of 16-20 and each year a quarter of them will age out of school into an uncertain future. Nebraska’s voters are looking to know where the candidates stand on important disability issues in order to increase opportunities for competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities and foster a more inclusive society. As such, RespectAbility has actively encouraged politicians to include issues facing people with disabilities in their policy agendas. Founded in 2013, RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities.
Nebraska employs the use of many good practices and policies to get more people with disabilities involved in the workforce, and it shows. When you look at the employment rate of people with disabilities in Nebraska, they are 4th in the nation. However, when looking at the gap between the employment rate of people with disabilities and those without disabilities, Nebraska comes 15th in the country. Only 46 percent of people with disabilities in Nebraska are employed while 83.9 percent of those without disabilities are employed, which results in a 37.9-point gap.
Government action alone – through executive orders, legislative decisions, and regulatory oversight – is insufficient. The necessary condition for achieving greater competitive, integrated employment for individuals with disabilities is engaging employers, meeting their talent needs and addressing stigmas that are barriers to work.
In order to promote best practices and the inclusion of people with disabilities in state workforce systems, RespectAbility has submitted comments for all 50 state’s drafts of the Unified Plan, which is required under Section 102 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This new law represents the intersection of hope and history for people with disabilities.
Nebraska has a strong foundation from which it can continue to innovate and work harder to expand its current employment rate for peoples with disabilities. The state plan includes critical data points, discusses outreach to key businesses, and points to growing sectors to set Nebraska on a path to continue expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities. However, the state could include in the plan a number of initiatives to prepare youths with disabilities for the workplace.
America has 1.2 million youth with disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 20. Each year 300,000 of them age into what should be the workforce, but stigmas and lack of knowledge about the capabilities of people with disabilities means that many do not find employers willing to hire them. Young adults with disabilities in all of these states are hoping to find work. They have high expectations and deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Young people with disabilities may simply need some thoughtful help to transition into the workforce. See data on all 50 states here: State Data.
Fully one-out-of-five Americans have a disability, and 52 percent of likely voters have a loved one with a disability. Only 34 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities have jobs, despite the fact that the vast majority want to work. More than 11 million working age people with disabilities are now living on government benefits in our country.
According to a new report from Rutgers University, 35.4 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in the November 2016 elections, representing close to one-sixth of the total electorate. That’s an increase of nearly 11 percent since 2008.
RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said, “Our community is looking for jobs so we can achieve the American dream, just like anyone else. It is vital for us to know where the candidates stand on economic, stigma, education, safety, transportation, housing, healthcare, foreign affairs and other issues.”
Remember to Vote
Nebraska residents can vote for the candidates of their choice either through the standard voting schedule or through early/absentee voting. The online registration deadline is Oct. 18, 2016. However, you may register in person at your local town office, city hall, or other approved location at any time. For more information, visit: Nebraska Online Voter Registration. For more information on registration: Voter Registration Frequently Asked Questions.
Nebraska has early/absentee voting by mail and in person. Apply for an early voting ballot by contacting your County Clerk or Election Commissioner in person at the election office, by personal agent, by mail or by fax. Any registered voter can receive an early vote ballot. All Early Voting ballots, whether personally delivered, delivered by agent, delivered by mail or other carriers must arrive by the closing of the polls on Election Day to count. More information regarding early voting can be found at: Voter Registration Frequently Asked Questions.