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

Will the Disability Vote be Powerful or Just Talk?

The NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee Presents: #VOTEDISABILITY 2016 GOTV Campaign - NCIL Pre-Conference: Sunday, July 24; 2:00 – 5:15 P.M.

Together we have improved the accessibility of voting (though it is still far from perfect). In this all-important election year, it is essential that we increase voter participation of people with disabilities as well as our family and friends. There is really only one way to do this—organize measurable voter education and an all-inclusive Get Out the Vote drive. This year’s NCIL Preconference will train attendees how to do this.

The NCIL website has a detailed Get Out The Vote manual designed for Centers or Independent Living:

Although the Disability Vote has been increasing in the general presidential elections, it is terrible in the much more important presidential primary. Over the years we have learned what increases our power and what does not. Voter turnout surely increases this power, so it is important to put your time, talent, and energy into organizing measurable Get Out the Vote drives.

Candidate forum experience has taught us that forums focusing on disability issues almost always have a dismal turnout. In some cases, there have been more candidates than people with disabilities. A low turnout candidate forum makes us look weak! Usually the only candidates who attend are already our allies, and we often end up with second class surrogates. A much more effective strategy to get our issues before candidates is to go to forums organized by the candidates themselves. Let the candidate do the turnout work! Going to forums that the candidate has put together has been a very effective strategy for other communities such as women’s rights groups, LGBTQIA groups, pro-life and pro-choice groups, and many others.

NCIL is part of the National Election Protection Coalition which on Election Day runs a hot line with lawyers to solve voting access problems. We are also building our own file of voting access problems. Let your colleagues and consumers know about their toll free number—1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Upcoming primaries the hotline will be operating on:

  • April 5: Wisconsin
  • April 19: New York
  • April 26: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
  • June 7: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will be holding a public hearing on April 27 on voting access problems. We want to gather as many individual stories as possible detailing the many issues folks have faced recently.

If you have a personal story, please immediately email it to Simply and briefly state what happened and where the polling place is located. We Need Your Stories!

The NCIL Voting Rights Subcommittee Presents: #VOTEDISABILITY 2016 GOTV Campaign – NCIL Pre-Conference: Sunday, July 24; 2:00 – 5:15 P.M.

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