This week, a national effort is underway to make the disability vote more influential. The American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) has designated July 11-15 as National Disability Voter Registration Week. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, people with disabilities play an important role in our democracy and should be able to have as great a voice in the political process as anyone else who exercises their Constitutional right to vote.
According to the REV UP Campaign, there are nearly 30 million people with disabilities eligible to vote when registered. Yet, during the 2012 election, voter turnout was 11 percent lower among people with disabilities than with those who are not disabled. During National Disability Voter Registration Week, REV UP Campaigns around the country will make a concerted effort to get more people with disabilities registered to vote, educate voters about issues and candidates, promote turnout of voters with disabilities across the country, engage candidates and the media on disability issues, and protect eligible voters’ right to participate in elections.
Registered voters and individuals who cast their ballots are more strongly connected with their neighbors and family members. As engaged citizens, they are more likely to discuss community issues with their family and friends, do favors for their neighbors, advocate for certain issues, and stay informed about local affairs. Nonprofit Vote has noted a correlation between voter and civic engagement to reduced unemployment, lower recidivism rates, and better health. Compared to non-voters, voters have higher levels of self-reported health and a greater sense of personal efficacy.
You can support this effort to ensure that the important demographic of people with disabilities has a voice this November by visiting AAPD’s Voter Resource Center to learn more.