The Stream

US 2020: Will people with disabilities be disenfranchised?

On Thursday, October 8 at 19:30 GMT:
As the US readies for an election already fraught with controversy over mail-in voting, many are now calling attention to the lack of accessibility for Americans with disabilities.

With the coronavirus pandemic still rampant, voters with disabilities say they are contending with a difficult decision – risk their health at the polls or give up their right to vote.

There are 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in the US, according to a Rutgers University study. Yet three decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activists say the difficulties they still face expose an electoral system in which people with disabilities cannot fully participate.

In some 43 out of 50 US states absentee voting procedures are virtually devoid of measures to address the needs of disabled people. The process often requires help from another person, which leads to concerns over voting independence and privacy. It also risks individuals’ exposure to COVID-19.

Voters with disabilities and disability advocates, though, are taking action to fight for accessible voting. Successful lawsuits in Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have resulted in improved measures to ensure accessibility. Lawsuits are ongoing in other states.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll explore the challenges for voters with disabilities and ask how they are campaigning to have them addressed.

On this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Rosa Lee Bichell, @dralegal
Justice Catalyst Fellowship Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates

Stephanie Enyart, @AFB1921
Chief Public Policy and Research Officer, American Foundation for the Blind

Rachita Singh, @AAPD
REV UP and Communications Co-ordinator, American Association of People with Disabilities