For Americans with disabilities, voting has been a longtime challenge, but during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a whole new list of obstacles.
For wheelchair users, voting in person can be a pretty daunting task. You’d have to be sure the polling place is wheelchair accessible. Then there’s the issue of reaching or going into the booth, and now there’s the risk of getting COVID-19 pandemic.
Even mail-in voting can be a problem for people who are blind or have low vision. They often have to rely on someone else to read and fill out the ballot for them.
According to a recent study by Rutgers University, up to 38.3 million eligible voters are people with disabilities. This represents a massive increase in participation by voters with disabilities compared to past elections. Further, millions more Americans have friends or loved ones with disabilities.
“The sheer size of the disability electorate makes it clear that people with disabilities and their family members have the potential to swing elections,” said Professor Lisa Schur, co-director of the Program for Disability Research at Rutgers University.
“While their partisan split is similar to that of other citizens, people with disabilities put a higher priority on health care and employment issues, so how candidates deal with those could be decisive.”
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve an equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else. Candidates for office who ignore the disability community do so at their peril.” said former Congressman Steve Bartlett.