Voting Resources for Disability
One great thing that came out of the 2016 election is that more citizens are engaged in the political process. We’re making great progress as a disability voting bloc. However, not all candidates are getting the message. It is being said that some elections have been lost because of a failure to engage disabled voters.
I got this idea from one of our Facebook group admins. As you know, most political discussions on Facebook spiral downward into a cesspool of negativity. That happened recently in our group. But, during the discussion, one of our admins mentioned NAMI and the information that they are putting out there in regards to the election.
Right as she said that, another member asked, “So how do I find out what politicians think about disabilities?” What a great question!
Great question! I had this idea. Why don’t I give my readers a list of resources they can use? If you are disabled or care about the causes of people with disabilities, where can you get information?
Can Disabled People Vote?
First, I think I have to address this issue. In previous versions of this post, I merely provided the resources. However, that makes the assumption that every disabled person can vote. And that’s not true and we need to fix it.
It is very easy for a disabled person to have their voting rights taken away.
Laws in 39 states and Washington, D.C., allow judges to strip voting rights from people with mental disorders ranging from schizophrenia to Down syndrome who are deemed “incapacitated” or “incompetent.” Some of those states use archaic language like “idiots” or “insane persons” in their statutes. (Pew)
If a disabled person’s voting rights aren’t outright taken away, there are other subtle and not-so-subtle ways they are prevented from voting. Many polling places are inaccessible to disabled people. Or, the poll workers are not trained on how to assist people with disabilities.
Don’t wait until Election Day or Primary Day to get this figured out. If someone close to you is disabled, make sure you have a plan. Contact the US Elections Assistance Commission. Or, make sure that the voter orders their absentee ballot in plenty of time, if it looks like getting to the polls will be a problem.
Election Resources for Disabled Households
- Candidates’ Websites: This is a great place to start. Look at the website of the candidates. Many candidates for Federal positions are now publishing full platforms about our issues, including everything from IDEA to ADA and more.
- AAPD: The AAPD is the American Association for People with Disabilities. They are one of the go-to or gold standard groups when it comes to elections. Every election, they send out a questionnaire to candidates. They even put some of the answers in a side-by-side format for easy comparison. You can click that link to see the questionnaires.
- RespectAbility: RespectAbility USA also puts out information about the candidates. Their information is right here.
- NAMI: NAMI is the National Alliance for Mental Illness. They have an advocacy/legislative section on their website. They also publish a political platform of issues and where they stand on those issues.
- Your State’s P&A group: Every state has an official Protection and Advocacy group for disabilities. Find the one for your state and see what they say about the campaigns. They often have a legislative section.
- League of Women Voters/Vote 411: The LWV is supposed to be a non-partisan group, but it doesn’t always play out that way at the local level. In any event, they should be contacting every candidate and asking them the same questions. You can often find this information on their website or your local paper as it gets close to voting time.
I’m going to stop there. That is five or six great places to start and I don’t want to overwhelm people. You can also look for the group that supports yours or your child’s condition and see if they have information on their site. Please let me know if the links don’t work, as of right now they are all working fine for me.
Lastly, several times this week I heard “there is no place for politics on this blog/facebook group/special needs etc.” I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more. Just one generation ago, our children were legally allowed to be kept out of schools and denied an education. It took a Federal law to change that. Same with ADA. And section 504 and Title IX and, and, and…..
Politics has everything to do with our kids and if we don’t speak up for them, who will?
And with that, I’m just going to leave this famous quote right here.