Over the course of 2014, FREED staff, volunteers and community members made over 650 contacts through social media, phone calls, postcards and face-to-face conversations to voters with disabilities reminding them to get out to the polls and vote. That is because we believe that it is important for people with disabilities, just like everyone else, to participate in the election process.
People with disabilities already make up a significant voting block, but we could be larger. Despite the fact that only 43% of people with disabilities casted ballots in 2012, we made up 12% of the total electorate that year. That placed us between the Latino vote (5%) and the African-American vote (17%), meaning that we are already quite large as a voting block, and that we could be much larger.
Studies and experience show that elected officials pay attention to the people who put them in office. Think about it. Why do the Republicans and Democrats care if women or Latinos support them in elections? The fact is that they have enough voter turnout, and presence in national discussions that gender and Latino issues matter. Why not disability issues?
People with disabilities are close to becoming established as a relevant voting block. Advocates at the national and state levels are looking for ways to make it easier for academics and journalists to track statistics of voters with disabilities. At the same time, organizations like us are working at the grassroots level to ramp up the disability vote. We are proud of our work this year, thankful to our volunteers, excited at the fact that many of our consumers voted in this year’s election, and are already making our plans for 2016.