Our votes?

May 13, 2008 at 11:18 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

By 2001 the National Council on Disability noted:

“14 million people of voting age who have a disability are unregistered voters
People with disabilities vote at a rate 11 percent lower than the general population
81 percent of voters who are blind or have visual impairments rely on others to mark their ballots
An estimated 20,000 of the nation’s 170,000 polling places are inaccessible to voters who use
wheelchairs”

In 2001 the General Accounting Office published this report, (PDF ) showing the work needed to make the voting process accessible to mobility impaired, cognitively impaired, or visually impaired,)

In 2004 the PBS series POV expanded on this:

… 47% of disabled people interviewed reported difficulties in finding an accessible path to the voting area and 11% indicated that a person using a wheelchair would only be able to enter if they agreed to be carried into the building. 52% of polling places did not have an appropriately-sized voting booth for persons in wheelchairs. 81% did not have ballots available in alternative formats for the blind or visually impaired so they could vote privately.

and the kicker, that makes this quite relevant to the current general election *and* where we find ourselves vis a vis the current administration and it’s policies toward the rest of the world, and the people of the us:

“If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities, there would have been 3.2 million additional voters in 2000.”

Who knows?

I do know that *this particular election* has come the closest to what persons with disabilities are hoping for:

Some ‘patient overcoming’ from GOTV efforts. Some ‘truly inspirational’ behavior on the part of the able bodied.

But…

Some of the cynics within the disability community believe that this is just another election for the rest of you. And that we will remain just as invisible after all the hype dies down, and that Clinton’s more Clinton, or Obama’s statement of policy will be forgotten or compromised beyond recognition in the name of political expediency. In other words the constituency with the least ‘visibility’ as a group will be one of the ones that gets thrown under the bus with regret…and again those of us with the least capability and resource to endure hardship will be asked directly or indirectly to suck it up.

Prove those cynics wrong. Make sure that people with disabilities that you know, and complete strangers with disabilities in your precinct have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

I also believe that the constituency of the American left does include some folks who determine that keeping the nursing home industry as it is, in effect warehousing people is important to their job security as caregivers. There has to be a dialogue between caregiver reps, states, unions and persons with disabilities to drive home the point that community based service provides better outcomes, is less expensive and leaves PWD’s less vulnerable than institutionalization….

First and foremost, we have the *right* to vote.

Secondly, the rest of you *need* us to vote. Yes you do. One in five, another constituency to help assure the political future that many are working towards.

I ask earnestly that you consider the accessibility and transport issues for those of us registered already. And if in any remaining states, more can get registered, that there is a targeted effort to do so. We can help each other. Just as long as we don’t remain invisible.

Crossposted at Kos

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1 Comment

  1. Tim said,

    These are fascinating statistics. Sometimes I write about the current backlog situation involving social security disability and SSI. And, invariably, I always mention holders of the purse strings, Congress, and their ineptitude and lack of responsibility in providing the necessary resources for SSA. However, it all really comes back to the people. The gross incompetence of our elected officials only gets to that level when the electorate allows it to happen.

    “14 million people of voting age who have a disability are unregistered voters”

    All votes count. But that’ s certainly enough votes to make a difference and comprise a significant voting block.

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