REV UP, the American Association of People with Disabilities’ year-old campaign to boost voter turn-out, is now targeting poll site accessibility.
A 2016 survey by the US Government Accountability Office found that 60 percent of polling places surveyed nationwide had potential impediments for voters with disabilities. Given that Rutgers University released a report showing voter turnout for people with disabilities in the 2016 presidential election was 6 percent lower than nondisabled voters, it’s not a stretch to link poll inaccessibility with this low turnout.
“If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without disabilities, there would have been an additional 2.2 million votes cast in 2016,” says Zach Baldwin, director of outreach at AAPD.
AAPD launched REV UP last year to counter this low turnout, and to hopefully transform the disability community into a powerful voting demographic. Baldwin says this is especially important with the 2018 midterm elections a year away and disability-related legislation, such as the proposed trillion-dollar budget cut to Medicaid, at forefront of the current political landscape.
REV UP works through the coalitions it has established in 21 states and Baldwin is optimistic that this will yield improvements for next year’s election.
“These coalitions bring together representatives from the disability community and our allies to build community, share resources, and work collectively to push voter registration, education, and access,” says Baldwin. “We plan to continue this work moving forward, especially with the 2018 midterm elections just over a year away.”