Do you have a disability? Does someone in your family of voting age have a disability? Are you registered to vote? Are they registered to vote?
The deadline to register in New York State for the November 6, 2018 Midterm Election is October 12, 2018.
For more information or to register, call the North Country Center for Independence at 518-563-9058.
Important things to know about voting and people with disabilities:
- People with any kind of disability can register to vote, as long as they are U.S. citizens of voting age, 18 or older. Cognitive or mental disabilities do not disqualify someone from voting, unless an individual been ruled legally ineligible. Election officials and poll workers alone cannot determine a disabled person’s eligibility to vote.
- Disabled adults who are under legal guardianship may or may not be eligible to vote, depending on the terms of their guardianship. If you are not sure, you should find out. Guardianship terms can be changed if necessary to specifically allow an otherwise eligible person with disabilities who is under guardianship to vote.
- Polling places should be physically accessible, and have voting mechanisms that are accessible to blind, visually impaired, and physically impaired people. Some disabled people may, if they choose, request a mail-in absentee ballot, but that does not lessen the obligation for polling sites to be accessible.
- If transportation is an issue, and you want to vote, it’s best to make arrangements well ahead of election day.
- You may be asked to provide identification at your polling site. A driver’s license, passport, or non-driver ID will suffice.
- If you have any difficulty voting, or anyone tries to prevent you from voting, call your Board of Elections: Clinton Co. 518-565-4740, Essex Co. 518-873-3474, Franklin Co. 518-481-1663.
Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse of Rutgers University have been studying voting participation among people with disabilities over the last few elections. Their most recent report, looking at 2016 voting, included some key findings:
About 16 million Americans with disabilities voted in 2016.
68.3% of voting age people with disabilities were registered to vote in 2016, compared to 70.6% of non-disabled people, a 2.3% registration gap. 82% of registered disabled voters actually voted, compared with 88% of non-disabled registered voters, a 6% gap in voting participation.
Kruse and Schur found that while voting by disabled people increased from 2008 to 2012, the voting rate for people with disabilities actually went down in 2016.