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What National Voter Registration Day Means for Voters with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., September 20 – Today, RespectAbility celebrates National Voter Registration Day. According to the official website, “National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. First observed in 2012, it has quickly gained momentum ever since. Nearly 4.7 million voters have registered to vote on the holiday to date.”

With the 2022 midterm elections only 49 days away, time is running out for people to complete their voter registration. As RespectAbility encourages all voters to ensure they are registered, it also is important to bring attention to the distinct barriers faced by a major voting bloc that is all too often ignored when their exercise their right to vote – the one in five Americans living with a disability.

In total, there are 61 million adults with disabilities across the country. Yet despite the size of the community, voters with disabilities face distinct barriers when it comes to exercising their right to vote. According to researchers at Rutgers University and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC): “one in nine voters with disabilities encountered difficulties voting in 2020,” and “voting difficulties were most common among people with vision and cognitive impairments.”

While 2020 was a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also a remarkable election year for voters with disabilities. As noted by Rutgers and EAC, “Close to 75 percent of voters with disabilities voted with a mail ballot or early in-person” and “five of six (83 percent) of voters with disabilities voted independently without any difficulty.”  17.7 million voters with disabilities cast their ballots in the 2020 election. These voters are crucial and can make the difference between a winning or a losing campaign.  

“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said Ollie Cantos, RespectAbility’s Chairman. “Some of the closest elections in recent years have been won by candidates who reached out to voters with disabilities. Glenn Youngkin did it in VirginiaSteve Daines did it in Montana, and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did it in Georgia. And President Biden made outreach to the disability community a core part of his campaign.”

To address barriers to voting rights and turn out voters, the disability community is getting more energized and organized than ever before. Thanks to the national efforts of AAPD and the REV UP Campaign, disabled people are getting active and registered in increasing numbers. You can easily register to vote through RockTheVote.com.

At the same time, many states have modified or changed their voter registration requirements since 2020. You can learn more about state-specific changes online at FiveThirtyEight.

View 2022 voting resources and materials at the National Voter Registration Day website.

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of the community. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2022 candidates. 

Published in2022 CampaignVoting Accessibility

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