Category Archives: 2020 Issues

POWER THE DISABILITY VOTE Summit

Register for this free, virtual summit on June 22 and June 23.

WASHINGTON, DC – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the disability community is mobilizing. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to announce POWER the Disability Vote, a national, non-partisan Disability & Election Virtual Summit. On Monday & Tuesday, June 22 and 23 from noon to 3:45 pm ET on both days and will include panels, presentations, and a national call-to-action to mobilize disability voters and allies.

Disability groups across America are staring down the pandemic with a big question: given COVID-19’s impact on Americans with disabilities and growing numbers of voters who will acquire disabilities, will the Disability Vote be among the deciding factors in the 2020 Election?

YES – According to a 2018 Rutgers University study, 14.3 million people with disabilities voted in 2018, 49.3% of eligible voters with disabilities, compared with 40.8% in 2014. In 2020, over 35 million eligible voters will be people with disabilities, not counting those that may acquire a disability as a result of COVID-19. That number increases to at least 62.7 million when adding voters who have a household member with a disability.

“The surge in turnout among our increasingly visible, vocal, and active voting bloc is only one reason that we need to continue to build the power of the disability vote,” said AAPD President and CEO Maria Town. “We’re also thinking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant gaps and weaknesses in public systems on which people with disabilities, among many others, rely. If elected officials, including the President, want to be elected, and expect our votes, they must address our issues.”

Last year, AAPD began organizing the Summit to galvanize a recent trend among Americans with disabilities: an 8.5% surge in voter turnout in 2018.

AAPD has organized these voters since 2016 through their REV UP (Register! Organize! Vote! Use your Power!) campaign. Currently, over 30 states have partnered with the REV UP network. With the participation of these state coalitions, plus hundreds of Americans with disabilities and the organizations that represent them, AAPD’s POWER Summit will push the Disability Vote forward as the deciding factor of the 2020 Elections.

For information on POWER The Disability Vote, visit https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/revup-summit/. This event was originally scheduled for January 13, 2020 as Elected for Inclusion – the Presidential Forum on Disabilities Issues.

AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.

AAPD’s REV UP Campaign aims to increase the political participation of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. AAPD works with state and national coalitions on effective, non-partisan campaigns to address the concerns of people with disabilities, eliminate barriers to voting, promote accessibility of voting; educate communities about issues and candidates; promote turnout of voters with disabilities across the country; and engage candidates and the media on disability issues. 

AAPD/NCIL Presidential Candidate Questionnaire

In an effort to inform the disability community of the presidential candidate’s disability policy positions, initiatives, and priorities, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) have developed a presidential candidate questionnaire. Read more about the question and answers at this link: https://mailchi.mp/aapd/announcing-the-2019-aapd-paul-g-hearne-leadership-awards-193341?e=2c358d98d6

2020 Presidential Forum on Disability Issues in January

Tickets are on sale now for AAPD’s forum on January 13, 2020 in Austin Texas. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchases here: https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/2020-presidential-forum-on-disability-issues/.

We have not yet seen a list of participants or a schedule for the event.

Learn more about the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Disability Policy Questions for Candidates

From the Center for American Progress:

Interestingly, the Center for American Progress is not a disability organization. Read the article by Rebecca Coakley on October 15, 2019: 10 Disability Policy Questions Every Presidential Candidate Should Answer.

The questions are listed here, but read the whole article for more context.

  1. It is still legal for disabled people to earn pennies an hour thanks to a loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act. How will you close it and help these works transition to the fairly paid workplace?
  2. Adding asset limits and work requirements to programs that help people with disabilities and their families access food, housing, and health care means that folks in need are constantly on the edge of economic instability. How would you address this?
  3. Almost 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 60 percent to 80 percent of polling places still remain inaccessible, leaving most disabled Americans unable to access the ballot box or see who they actually voted for. What would you do to increase access to democratic institutions for people with disabilities?
  4. Many candidates have talked about the need to invest in infrastructure. Clearly, this is important. In the past, accessibility has not been part of the conversation from the beginning, which has resulted in a persistent lack of access. What specifically would you to do ensure that accessibility and inclusion are included in your plan for the nation’s infrastructure and the jobs that come with it?
  5. How would you create a system of long-term services and supports that sustains the rights of disabled Americans to live in their homes as well as lifts up and supports the domestic workforce?
  6. Natural disasters are all too common, and climate change disproportionately affects the disability community. What is your plan for ensuring that disability issues and the community are front and center in your planning and execution of emergency management planning and your climate agenda?
  7. In more than 20 states, parents with disabilities can lose custody of their children largely on the basis of a disability diagnosis. How would you change this?
  8. Lack of affordable and accessible housing continues to be a significant impediment to people with disabilities and their families achieving economic security What changes would you implement to remedy this?
  9. What policies would your administration advance to improve access to quality affordable mental health care and protect the civil rights of people with mental illness?
  10. Children with disabilities, especially those who are also people of color, often have unequal access to educational resources, despite the law guaranteeing such access. What will your administration do differently?

Presidential Forum on Disability Issues

Elected for Inclusion – January 13, 2020

The American Association of People with Disabilities and REV UP Texas Announce
Elected for Inclusion: A Presidential Forum on Disability Issues

 
 
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and REV UP Texas are proud to announce Elected for Inclusion, our national nonpartisan Presidential forum on disability issues. The forum will take place on January 13, 2020 at the AT&T Hotel and Convention Center in Austin, Texas in advance of Super Tuesday and the November 2020 elections. 

Elected for Inclusion – the Presidential Forum on Disabilities Issues will place the pressing questions the disability community faces on center stage and give major party Presidential candidates an opportunity to discuss policy decisions that affect approximately 23% of the American electorate.

AAPD and REV UP Texas are hosting Elected for Inclusion as a means of highlighting the power of the disability vote. In 2020, over 35 million eligible voters will be people with disabilities.  The number of “disability voters” increases to over 62 million when we consider the ripple effect of the disability vote that connects families, friends, advocates, educators, providers, and other individuals that interact with people with disabilities.

AAPD President and CEO Maria Town stated, “Now, more than ever before, Presidential candidates know they must address issues important to the disability community and involve people with disabilities in their campaigns. Elected for Inclusion is an unparalleled opportunity for candidates to set forth their platforms and better understand this powerful, growing constituency.”

The disability community has a significant stake in the results of local, state, and federal elections this November. Our elected officials determine the direction and funding of the programs and services people with disabilities rely on for healthcare and independent living. Justin Dart, father of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and AAPD co-founder, said it best: “Vote as if your life depended on it, because it does.”

For more information on Elected for Inclusion: A Presidential Forum on Disability Issues and the REV UP Campaign, visit www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/. The REV UP Campaign offers a host of information on registering to vote, increasing civic engagement, and state-specific resources and events.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 Needs Your Help

Democracy Diverted – Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote – September 2019

This report from The Leadership Conference Education Fund details the creation by Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its Section 5 Amendment (See below). This law discouraged much of the racism previously associated with voting rights. In 2013, Section 5 was dismantled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Shelby decision. Since Shelby, polling location closures have skyrocketed.

” Closing polling places has a cascading effect, leading to long lines at other polling places, transportation hurdles, denial of language assistance and other forms of in-person help, and mass confusion about where eligible voters may cast their ballot. For many people, and particularly for voters of color, older voters, rural voters, and voters with disabilities, these burdens make it harder — and sometimes impossible — to vote.”

” One of the more alarming trends we discovered is a widespread practice of blaming polling place closures on another civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The leading closers of polling places from Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana used ADA compliance as their major pretext. In several cases, little to no effort was made to understand ADA compliance. Instead, election officials took advantage of the public’s lack of understanding about the law to grossly inflate the estimated costs of compliance for both publicly and privately owned polling places .”

Recommendation:

“…restore the Voting Rights Act, reactivate Section 5, and strengthen its other provisions that require elected officials to seek the input of communities of color and provide notice of any polling place change for any reason. “

In other words, your vote matters. Without the VRA, it is too easy for election officials to discriminate against specific types of voters. Talk to the candidates about the Voting Rights Act, Section 5 and how important it is for every single voter to be able to vote!

Section 5

Jurisdictions with a demonstrated record of racial discrimination in voting were required to submit all proposed voting changes to the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., for “preclearance” in advance of implementation. The jurisdictions were required to prove that the proposed voting change would not deny or adversely affect the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or an eligible voter’s membership in a language minority group.

Disability Vote and Presidential Debates

During the upcoming presidential debates, the REV UP network would like to further promote policies that the presidential candidates should address. We would also like to see intentional discussion around disability issues during the debates. We could use your help!

  • Please share questions and topics that you would like the Presidential Candidates to discuss during the upcoming debates. Please share your thoughts through this link before September 9th.  AAPD will promote questions and topic areas to the debate moderators and via social media to amplify the Disability Vote. 
  • Leading up to the presidential debates, we encourage folks to amplify #SayTheWord. #SayTheWord is a hashtag to encourage individuals (including campaigns) to say the word disability. Please also use #REVUP and #CripTheVote.
  • Finally, during the presidential debate on September 12th, we encourage folks to participate in the #CripTheVote twitter conversation.

Help us amplify the Disability Vote!