WASHINGTON – As millions of Americans cast ballots in advance of Election Day, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) urges all people with disabilities to exercise their right to vote by mail or in-person.
“Do not be deterred from voting, no matter what you hear about long lines, voter intimidation, or other voter suppression efforts,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of NACDD. “People with disabilities have the right to vote, and should exercise that right. We are encouraging everyone to make a plan, so that everyone can cast a ballot that is counted.”
“People with disabilities have the same right to vote as every other American, and this election cycle’s confusing information and threats that there will be fraud has had a chilling effect on people with disabilities. One Vote Now and advocates across the country have been working to ensure voters know their rights.
Meltzer encourages people with disabilities to know their rights and take quick action if something feels wrong at the polls. “Make sure to report any abuse or intimidation through your state or local election office if you see or experience any, she said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime and we believe everyone should have access to the ballot. Do not be discouraged by what you hear on the news, read in the paper, or see on social media- make your plan and cast your ballot.”
“I chose to vote by mail and because of my disability, I have difficulty marking the ballot. So, my wife assisted me in the process, even though she did not agree with all my choices. It is an empowering process as a person with a disability to know that your decision cannot be influenced by anybody and that we are part of the democratic process,” said Jason Snead JD., Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC).
“Because of my disability and my immune system, I just voted by mail (yet submitted my ballot). Getting my ballot took almost two weeks. What was nice about voting at my home is that if I didn’t know who anyone is, I can look them and their views up on my phone. And if I don’t understand a question, my mom can help me understand it more,” said Emily Kranking, Communications Consultant, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.
“I voted absentee for the first time in April due to being quarantined. My mom and I went online and requested our ballots, and we received them in the mail. We sent them in right away so that they could be counted. Our votes are important,” said Savanna Heltemes, an advocate from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Voting is a very important part of being a citizen, and understanding the rules are just as important–knowing our rights as citizens, so we do not lose our right to vote through all the barriers the system creates. Voting for me is about supporting the policies important to me through the people I vote for,” said Mark Flowers, an advocate from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
OneVoteNow, which is made possible by a grant from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, through the Craig Newmark Philanthropies, is a central hub to find information about how to vote in the 2020 election. Structural barriers have historically made it more difficult for the disability community to vote. To make voting more accessible, NACDD gathers and shares information about participating in the election. The website provides the tools to ensure that everyone can cast their ballot by helping users register to vote and to make a plan to vote in person or by mail.