Blocked from the Ballot Box: People with Disabilities

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People with disabilities comprised roughly one in six eligible voters in 2016, according to a report by researchers Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse at Rutgers University. The report, “Projecting the Number of Eligible Voters with Disabilities in the November 2016 Elections,” also found that despite forming a significant share of the electorate, people with disabilities have been less likely than the general population to vote in past elections.

One reason for the lower turnout is barriers to the ballot box. Imagine using a wheelchair or walker and not being able to enter your polling place because there was no ramp, the doors were too narrow, hard to open, and lacked automatic openers, or the pathway to the voting area was obstructed and lacked proper signage; having a vision impairment and encountering a voting machine that did not offer audio or large print ballots, or poll workers who were not trained to set up these features or troubleshoot malfunctions and failed to provide instructions on how to use the machine; or having an intellectual or cognitive disability and being denied the right to vote by state law that reflects incorrect assumptions about your capabilities.