Voting is one of the most basic American rights… and responsibilities. The President, U.S. Congress members, the Governor, State legislators, mayors, local school board members, and other officials are chosen by voters. You can vote for the people whose positions you most agree with on issues that are important to you. Voting gives you a “say” in who is elected. Elected officials make laws and policies that affect your life. Voting is a way to make your voice heard and for you to express your opinions, and to influence who is making those important laws and policies.
If you do not vote, you are letting others make decisions without you getting a “say” in what they decide. People with disabilities tend to have more contact with the law than those without disabilities, whether it is because they may need the protections of anti-discrimination laws, special education law, or public benefits for people with disabilities (like Social Security Disability, SSI, or Medicaid). This means that people with disabilities have even more reasons to participate in the voting process!
Across the country, however, people with disabilities have often not cast their ballots – because polling places are not accessible, because of discriminatory practices, because they (wrongly) think they cannot vote because of their disability, or because they do not think their vote will make a difference. According to a study done on the 2012 elections, people with disabilities voted at a rate that was 5.7 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. This means that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities there would be 3 MILLION more voters with disabilities! Imagine what a difference 3 million people can make – and remember that when it is time to register to vote and to cast your ballot!
This guide will educate you about your voting rights and what to do if you are denied your right to vote or if your polling place is not accessible to you.