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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Disability Voting Rights

Protect Our Voting Rights

Did you vote in your last election? If not, you’re not alone.

Over two million people with disabilities didn’t vote in 2016, and this isn’t just an issue of voter apathy. Study after study shows that our voting system is still inaccessible.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL wants to help YOU vote.

Today marks two months until the mid-term elections. This is your chance to elect representatives on all levels of government that understand the interests and priorities of the disability community. Will you make a donation to NCIL’s Voting Rights Fund today to help ensure that you have an accessible way to vote in November?

Yes! I will chip in $25 to help make our democracy accessible to all.

EMILY’s List Hosts Facebook Live on NCIL’s Campaign Accessibility Guide

Last Tuesday, NCIL Disability Vote Organizer Sarah Blahovec joined Muthoni Wambu Kraal, Vice President of National Outreach and Training at EMILY’s List, to discuss NCIL’s “Including People with Disabilities in Your Political Campaign: A Guide for Campaign Staff.” Discussing why NCIL wrote the guide, Blahovec said “we want to proactively encourage campaigns to become accessible…but we also wanted to give people with disabilities a resource to go campaigns that they want to work for and say ‘here, this can be done.” You can watch the captioned replay of the live stream on Facebook Black lettering with the words "EMILY'S List" underlined by an orange and yellow stripe

You Beat Voter Suppression in Georgia!

Last week, national media focused in on Randolph County, Georgia, where it was discovered that the Board of Elections planned to close seven of nine polling places due to alleged ADA violations. Outrage spread throughout the country as this community, whose voters are primarily people of color, faced the prospect of being forced to travel up to 15 miles without public transportation to a new polling place.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAlerted to this news, NCIL members and other Georgia disability advocacy groups jumped into action. You joined with other advocates to tell Randolph County in no uncertain terms that exploiting the ADA to close polling places and disenfranchise voters of color is unacceptable. If a polling place is inaccessible, the legal obligation under the ADA is to make the polling place accessible, not to shut it down.

That’s the magic of NCIL’s grassroots network. We can mobilize advocates like you from targeted areas to address rights violations like those in Randolph County.

You won. Now, NCIL needs your help to continue to protect the right to vote. Here’s how:

Georgia Disability Advocates Respond to Polling Place Closures in Randolph County

This week, several Georgia disability advocates responded to reports that seven of nine polling places would be closed in rural Randolph County, Georgia due to polling places allegedly not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Randolph County has a population of nearly 8,000 and the precincts being discussed serve populations of voters that are over 50 percent Black, and these sudden closures have triggered concerns by many groups that the ADA is being misused and that these closures will disenfranchise voters of color. Many voters would reportedly have to walk miles to get to their new polling place, and there is no public transportation system in Randolph County.  [Read more…]

Get Ready to Get Out the Vote! Upcoming Webinars on Voter Engagement

As we get closer to the midterms, several organizations are holding webinars to help organizations and individual advocates become more engaged in the democratic process and participate in Get Out The Vote activities.  [Read more…]

Rooted in Rights Storyteller Carrie Wade Talks Running for Office with a Disability

This week, Rooted in Rights released a video by Storyteller Carrie Wade entitled “Running Out,” which looks at representation in public office and considers the challenges and opportunities of running for office as an LGBTQ woman with a disability. Carrie talked with both Sarah Blahovec, NCIL’s Disability Vote Organizer, former candidate Amy Biviano, and Reggie Greer, who is the Director of Constituent Engagement at the Victory Fund, which trains and supports openly LGBTQ individuals to seek elected office.   [Read more…]

Center for American Progress Releases Report “Increasing Voter Participation in America”

On July 11th, the Center for American (CAP) released a comprehensive report regarding voting participation in America, the conditions that are contributing to low voter turnout, and the tools and initiatives states can use to increase voter participation. This report looks recognizes the barriers and conditions that exist for many populations including the disability community, communities of color, young people, low-income Americans, and formerly incarcerated persons.   [Read more…]

U.S. Election Assistance Commission Reflects on Town Hall at National Disability Rights Network Conference

On June 26th, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission published a blog about their experience holding a town hall at the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. At the town hall, people with disabilities shared their experience and feedback on voting with EAC Chairman Tom Hicks and Vice Chair Christy McCormick. According to the EAC, voters shared feedback concerning:  [Read more…]

Gearing Up for the 2018 Midterms: Ballot Measures and Nonprofits

Do you know what will be on your ballot when you go to vote in November? It’s very likely that you’re prepared to vote for somebody to represent you in a legislative body on the local, state, or national level, like a member of the House of Representatives. But while you might be voting for one candidate or another, you might have something else to vote on show up on your ballot, something that doesn’t involve choosing a candidate to represent your interests. Many states have voters decide on ballot measures, which according to Bolder Advocacy, “initiate constitutional or legislative reform by proposing, placing on the ballot, and voting on statutes or constitutional amendments.” In 24 states, citizens may have the opportunity to vote directly on important policy issues, often including issues that impact people with disabilities, such as housing and transportation.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingOne high-profile ballot measure in the 2018 Midterms is Florida Ballot Amendment Four, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative. This amendment reads: “This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.” Florida is only one of four states with a lifetime ban on voting for people with prior felony convictions, and this disenfranchises 1.4 million Florida voters. Higher numbers of people with disabilities and people of color are incarcerated, making this ballot amendment a disability rights and civil rights issue. NCIL supports this amendment, as it restores the responsibility of civic engagement and ensures equal access for Florida citizens. You can learn more at Florida Second Chances[Read more…]

NCIL Disability Vote Organizer Talks Disabilities and Campaigning with She Should Run

This week, NCIL’s Disability Vote Organizer, Sarah Blahovec, sat down with She Should Run to talk about the challenges to participating in and running political campaigns for people with disabilities. She Should Run is “a non-partisan 501(c)3 that provides an approachable starting place and network for women leaders considering a future run for office and for those who support them.” Much of this work is accomplished through She Should Run’s Incubator program, which provides resources and a community for women to develop their leadership skills as they consider running for office.   [Read more…]