The following post was taken from a statement released by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), a coalition of national disability organizations, including TASH, that work for national public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. Read the full statement here.
Today, September 22, 2015, is National Voter Registration Day. Voting is the foundation of our democracy and one of the most fundamental rights that Americans enjoy. The goal of National Voter Registration Day is to ensure that no one is left out of the voting process. We remain far from meeting that goal for people with disabilities. Our voting systems operate in ways that prevent far too many people with disabilities from voting. Federal and state officials must work with the disability community to change that.
The Constitution as well as a number of federal laws protect the voting rights of people with disabilities. These laws include the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite these protections, however, widespread barriers continue to prevent many people with disabilities from voting or registering to vote. For example:
- Many polling places and voting equipment remain inaccessible to people with disabilities;
- The opportunity to cast one’s ballot in private is a core element of the election system;
- Online voter registration systems are frequently inaccessible to people with disabilities; and
- Many people with disabilities are inappropriately prevented from voting due to overbroad voter competence requirements imposed on people with disabilities by state laws or by election officials, poll workers, or disability service providers.
Current practices, whether purposeful or not, systemically prevent people with disabilities from voting. This disenfranchisement of voters with disabilities is unacceptable. We call on federal and state officials to work with the disability community to eliminate these barriers and ensure full and equal participation by people with disabilities in our voting systems.