People with disabilities continue to vote at a lower rate than most others. Turnout in recent decades has improved slightly since federal laws were passed to ensure people with disabilities have access to voting polls. Study after study, however, shows these voters lag behind other cohorts when it comes to registration and participation in elections. The Research Alliance for Accessible Voting used U.S. Census data to show in a survey report that there was a disability turnout gap of 7.2 percent during the 2008 presidential contest and 5.7 percent in 2012. “There has been a fair amount of progress but we still have a long way to go,” said Jim Dickson, who co-chaired a voting rights working group for the National Council on Independent Living.
In the United States, there are at least 35 million people with disabilities who are voting age, which is about 1 out of every 7 potential voters. That figure will grow as baby boomers age and begin to experience cognitive and physical declines. Plus, the number of voters with traumatic brain injuries—veterans or otherwise—keeps growing.
In this article NCSL will examine federal laws that govern voting for people with disabilities and why this challenge endures, looking at the problems with accessibility that stymie citizens with disabilities from exercising their right to vote. It also will note some measures states and legislators have crafted to help ease voting for people with disabilities. Finally, it will note several solutions offered by elections experts and disability advocates for narrowing the turnout gap for people with disabilities.
Full Article: States and Election Reform | The Canvass: May 2014.