Voting is a privilege of living in a democratic society, and, for people with disabilities, it is one of the most important ways to promote leaders that best represent your values.
But the voice of the disability community is only as loud and as strong as the number of disability advocates that are registered to vote—and who exercise that right. MDA is committed to helping ensure that every person of voting age living with a disability or advocating on behalf of those with disabilities is registered to vote.
Important laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act are in place because disability advocates and like-minded elected officials took action. Both are examples of why the disability vote is critical.
Since the inception of the ADA 26 years ago, Americans with disabilities have made great strides in society and in the American political system. There are approximately 35 million people with disabilities that are of voting-age in the U.S., representing 1 out of 7 voters. However, in the 2012 presidential election, only an estimated total of 15.6 million people with disabilities voted. While MLaws such as the Help America Vote Act are in place to remove obstacles to voting, such as inaccessible voting locations, and to ensure that every person has the ability to vote.
If physical issues have deterred you from voting in the past, it is important to know your legal rights and what your state is and isn’t required to do for disabled voters. States are required to make accommodations for voters with disabilities, including accessible polling locations, curbside voting, absentee voting and physical assistance with voting. For example, absentee voting is a way to vote if transportation or physical location is a barrier. Any registered voter is able to vote absentee without having to provide a reason. It allows you to fill out a ballot before Election Day and send it in through the mail. Request an absentee ballot from your local county board of elections either online or by phone. Many websites are available to serve as a resource for voters with disabilities, including the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
But before you can vote, you must register. Registration is simple and available online here or by reaching out to the MDA Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800- 800-572-1717. Each state has a different deadline to register (usually early October), so make sure to register as soon as possible to avoid missing your chance to have your voice heard.
Together, we can ensure full participation in the political process and advocate for policies that encourage independence, self-determination and equality for people with disabilities.
To learn more about MDA’s Policy & Advocacy program or to sign up to receive action alerts and advocacy emails, click here.