More than 14.7 million Americans with disabilities voted in the 2008 election, an increase of nearly four million more than the 2000 election. However, the turnout of people with disabilities was still seven percent lower than the general population. “Several improvements can be credited with this increased level of participation,”
Despite the passage of HAVA and ongoing ADA requirements, many polling places remain inaccessible and individuals continue to report that they do not get the support they need in their polling place to ensure they can vote independently and confidentially. “Our fellow citizens with disabilities, which include more than 1.15 million individuals in the Rocky Mountain region, deserve to be heard and should have equal access to participate in the voting process,” Burke expressed.
“The voices and votes of the one out of every five Americans living with a disability will play a critical role in the 2012 election,” Burke stressed. “While great strides toward voting access have been made, much work is yet to be done. If barriers to voting persist, the largest minority group in our country is denied access to the most democratic participation process in America.”
Burke advises people with disabilities to know their rights under Title II of the ADA, which protects qualified individuals from discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs and activities of all state and local governments, including voting in Federal, state and local elections. The ADA states that:
· Public entities cannot deny qualified individuals participation in the voting process.
· Public entities are not allowed to make unnecessary inquiries about a person's disability.
· Public entities are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures to allow people with disabilities access to voting.
· Public entities are required to ensure voting related communications are equally effective for voters with disabilities.
For more information on barrier free voting, visit adainformation.org/
About the Rocky Mountain ADA Center
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is operated by Meeting the Challenge, Inc. and provides information, training and informal guidance to individuals and organizations with rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Center is one of 10 regional centers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, and serves a six-state region including Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.adainformation.org.