Disability Vote Project Powers Up For 2012
By Zach Baldwin, Development Associate
American Association of People with Disabilities
Voting is at the core of political participation—which is one of the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Voting is how we ensure that our government represents our concerns and how we hold officials accountable for their actions.
It is our civic duty to vote and make sure that all citizens have a chance to let their voices be heard. However, 22 years after the ADA passed, many Americans with disabilities still face accessibility barriers when they attempt to vote.
Barriers To Voting
In 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report stating that close to 50 percent of voting places across the country had impediments from the parking lot to the voting area. This report focused primarily on mobility disabilities, but it is important to remember other types of disabilities. Blind and low-vision voters, for example, require accommodations at polling places to vote and fulfill their civic duty.
Many people with disabilities don’t vote. The reasons for this are as diverse as the disability community: inaccessible polling places, inaccessible voting machines, lack of transportation to polling places, lack of knowledge about alternative ways to vote, voter apathy, and more.
If Americans with disabilities are not voting in large numbers, then their interests and needs are not accurately represented. AAPD works to ensure the needs and interests of people with disabilities are recognized and acted on.
As the nation’s largest disability rights organization, AAPD is committed to breaking down barriers to voting and ensuring that every eligible voter can cast a ballot.
AAPD’s Disability Vote Project aims to address the fundamental inequalities faced by voters with disabilities. The project works in a nonpartisan approach to ensure full accessibility to all voting places and polling equipment to increase the political participation of people with disabilities and people with strong disability interests.
We hope to identify people with disabilities who have a low propensity to vote, identify the factors that explain why these individuals do not vote, provide education on alternative voting methods, such as early vote and absentee ballots, and ultimately increase voter turnout of the disability community.
Our community represents a powerful force for change. But we cannot enact that change if we do not make our voices heard. We must unite as a community and make our interests known on Election Day. Power up!
AAPD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not promote any political party or candidate. Similarly, the Disability Vote Project is not designed to promote a particular candidate or party; the sole purpose of this project is to increase voter participation by the disability community.