Every year the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) REV UP campaign coordinates National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) to increase the enfranchisement of people with disabilities through voting, political participation, and civic engagement. This year, NDVRW is July 13th through 17th. While voting and civic participation are important every year, 2020 is a Presidential election year when more people are likely to participate and may be registering or inquiring about their right to voting access.
Voting is considered a fundamental right as a U.S. citizen and a hallmark of democracy. Since the Constitution was originally drafted, voting rights have been expanded and become more inclusive to all citizens. Important federal civil right laws have been enacted to combat various forms of discrimination and to protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, or disability. The AAPD estimates 35 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in 2020.
There are several federal laws protecting the rights of voters with disabilities including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA), and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) remains one of the most extensive laws in addressing discrimination and barriers to inclusion in all aspects of life for people with disabilities, including civic participation. Specifically, Title II of the ADA addresses barriers to people with disabilities voting. Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments (i.e., “public entities”) to ensure that people with disabilities have full and equal opportunity to vote in national, state, county, and local elections. Since voting is administered by individual state Boards of Election, rather than a Federal agency, Title II applies to voting access. The ADA’s provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during the early voting process.
Voting remains a paramount right and responsibility of U.S. citizens. It is important to ensure people with disabilities can learn about and vote for candidates and initiatives of their choice, so that their voices and interests are represented. If you are interested in research on voting and enfranchisement check out our reSearch publication on Enfranchisement and People with Disabilities, and the Voting Is My Superpower! Voting Tips for People Living With Disabilities fact sheet from the Indiana Traumatic Brain Injury System Model System.
Learn more about how to register and vote in your state at https://www.eac.gov/voters/register-and-vote-in-your-state.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) and serves as an independent, bipartisan commission charged with developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.