Voting Q & A

Large blue “VOTE” logo, in which the “O” is part of a stylized wheelchair symbol’s wheel

How do I check my registration and register to vote? What is the deadline?

Click here for a website where you can check your registration status, and register to vote online in New York State. You can also register at most government offices, and at most human services agencies, including here at the North Country Center for Independence. Call us at 518-563-9058 if you want to register and need assistance.

- The voter registration deadline in New York is Friday, October 12 for the 2018 Midterms on November 6. Click here to see the registration deadlines in all 50 states.
Photo of several red, white, and blue buttons reading "VOTE"
I don't drive or have a car. How am I supposed to get to the polls?

- The first step is to make sure you know exactly where your polling place is. Click here for a website where you can find out.

- Is it close enough to walk or wheel to? Could you afford to take a cab, just that once, to cast your vote? Call your county transportation department and ask if there is wheelchair-accessible transportation that can take you to and from the polls. You can also call your local Democratic or Republican Party, (whichever you prefer), and ask if they can help you get to the polls.

- If getting to the polls is going to be difficult in any way, it’s best to plan as far ahead as possible so you can make arrangements.

Why is polling place accessibility important? Can't disabled people just vote absentee?

- In NYS, most people with disabilities can get an absentee ballot if they want one. This allows you to cast your vote by mail. And absentee votes are just as valid and counted as votes cast at the polls. Click here for more information on voting by absentee ballot in New York State.

- However, many people prefer to go to their local polling place to vote, the way most voters do, and they have a right to do so. People with disabilities also have an equal right to an accessible polling place where they can independently and privately cast their ballot. All polling places in New York State should have a way for people with mobility, motor, visual, or hearing disabilities to cast their vote.

- If you choose to have someone help you with the voting process, you may. But you cannot be forced by someone else into having help to vote.

Aren't there certain kinds of disabilities that make it impossible or inappropriate to vote?

- In the United States, you don't have to demonstrate any particular level of knowledge or understanding to be eligible to vote. You just have to be a United States citizen and 18 years old or over. That applies to everyone, including people with all kinds of disabilities.

- NYS Law allows judges to rule a person with cognitive disabilities ineligible to vote when it is part of a legal guardianship. However, it is not an automatic part of every guardianship, it can be reversed and voting allowed if appealed, and in general, people have a right to register regardless of their disabilities unless specifically deemed ineligible by a judge.

- The vast majority of people with disabilities are as capable as anyone else of making their own voting decisions.

I don't know much about politics. Wouldn't it be kind of wrong for me to vote?

- One of the core principles of democracy is that you don't have to have a certain level of knowledge or intelligence to have a meaningful right to vote. If your vote isn't especially informed, and cast more on instinct, it is still valuable, and your insights are no better or worse than those of other voters.

- That said, if you feel like you would like to be more knowledgeable, you can change that. You can start by visiting websites about the 2018 Midterm Elections, and then visiting the websites of candidates who will be on your ballot.
Red white and blue sign reading "VOTE!"
Why is it important for people with disabilities to vote?

- People with disabilities are a potentially huge voting constituency. Almost 16 million people with disabilities voted in 2016. Recently, major elections have come down to thousands of votes. In local races, hundreds or even handfuls of votes can make the difference.

- In 2016, 68.3% of voting age people with disabilities were registered to vote, compared to 70.6% of non-disabled people, a 2.3% gap. 82% of registered disabled voters actually voted, compared with 88% of non-disabled registered voters, a 6% gap. (Source: Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse, Fact sheet: Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2016 Elections).

- Just about all disability-related policy is affected by who is elected to Congress, state legislatures, counties, towns, and village offices … including the scope, quality, and funding of Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, SNAP and housing assistance, home care, developmental disability services, independent living centers, and civil rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

- Who knows better how these and other disability programs should be designed and implemented. Very few lawmakers really know the disability experience. They rely on us not just for our votes, but for our everyday expertise on disability issues. We have the numbers and the knowledge to make a difference. But potential alone doesn’t do anything. First we have to follow through and vote.

The National Council on Independent Living has resources for voters with disabilities. Click here to visit their page.

You can also check an analysis of the races for Congress, every day from now until election day, at these pages: Senate Forecast - House Forecast.

If you are looking for information on current disability issues, visit the following websites:

2018 NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Booklet