Category Archives: News

Tell Your State Rep to cosponsor amendment #1277 “Improving Voting Access”

State Representative Frank Moran introduced amendment #1277 “Improving Voting Access” to H.4600 that would make voting more accessible in Massachusetts by ending the disenfranchisement of voters who don’t return the municipal census and improving polling place accessibility by requiring periodic inspections.

Email your State Representative and ask them to cosponsor Rep Moran’s amendment before the House debates the matter during the week of April 22-26. Common Cause has set up an easy interface way to Email your State Representative.

Amendment # 1277 would do two things

Read the Entire Text of Amendment 1277 (PDF)

End the disenfranchisement of voters who don’t return the municipal census

Today, if a voter does not respond to the annual municipal census, they are punished by being placed on the inactive voter list. Massachusetts is one of the only states to punish voters this way.

The amendment would end this penalty — and ensure clean voter rolls the way other states do. Voters would be placed on the inactive voter list if:

  • They changed their address with the U.S. Postal Service and didn’t change their registration or
  • They are marked as a duplicate registration by the multistate Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

This process would be automated to the extent possible to reduce the workload on local election officials. There would be no change to the municipal census itself, which is used to ensure local services and to populate the jury pool.

Improve polling place accessibility with periodic inspections

Voters with disabilities continue to face myriad obstacles to in-person voting – from physical inaccessibility to lack of functioning equipment inside polling locations.

This amendment would require the Secretary of Commonwealth to arrange inspection of all polling places and early voting sites at least once every four years to ensure compliance with federal and state disability accessibility laws.

2024 – Sign Up to Volunteer to Survey Polling Place(s)

The Disability Law Center and REV UP MA presented an on-line training session for volunteers interested in learning about how to survey their polling places during the upcoming election.   We had great participation in this session on February 14th. Participants learned how to identify accessibility issues at polling sites and how to report issues using the REV UP survey tool.

Please watch the February 2024 Training Session Video and get ready to survey.  (note: If you watched the 2023 video, you are basically prepared.)

PLEASE register to survey your site:

The MA primary is March 5, and we could use your help identifying barriers to voting.

You’re Invited to the Voting Access Town Hall Series!

In partnership with REV UP MA, The Election Modernization Coalition is hosting a Voting Access Town Hall Series!  Join us in

  • Wednesday, January 10 in Brockton, The Brockton Public Library at 304 Main Street
  • Thursday, January 11 in Lawrence, The Lawrence Public Library at 51 Lawrence Street
  • Wednesday, January 17 in Springfield, South Congregational Church at 23 Maple Street

Register by scanning a QR code on the flyer or Register online

These Town Halls are an opportunity for voters to learn about new election laws and for voters to share their experience as a voter with voting rights advocacy groups. Among other things, the discussion will include the part of the Voting ACCESS bill that includes more frequent and stricter standards for making sure polling places are accessible for people with disabilities.

Light refreshments will be provided.
We anticipate language translation available.
American Sign Language and CART will also be available.
 

Download the Voting Access Town Hall Flyer (pdf).

2023 Help Evaluate Polling Sites in MA

MA has decent accessibility laws, but right now, it is up to volunteers to ensure our polling sites are accessible for all.  The Disability Law Center (DLC) is coordinating efforts to evaluate the hundreds of polling sites in MA.  You can help us by learning what to look for, and sending evaluations to DLC.

Please fill out the DLC survey when you vote. Even if you do not encounter any barriers, your input on a specific site is valuable! You may want to read it ahead of time to get an overview of pertinent information:: Take the DLC Polling Place Accessibility Survey.

For a quick overview, view the DLC Slides for evaluating polling sites: DLC Polling Site Evaluation Powerpoint Slides.

The following training video explains the laws and what to look for at your polling site:

REV UP MA 2023 Disability Voting Webinar

September 20, 2023

In her first year as the Voting Rights Advocate at Disability Law Center, Emily Almeda-Lopez assembled an impressive group of disability rights allies and experts for the 2023 conference. Attendees learned about disability barriers and features in Massachusetts from Bridget Murphy from the Secretary of State’s office as well as representatives of local organizations. We learned more about the recent successes (Electronic Vote by Mail) from the Disability Law Center staff. And Alexia Kemmerling from the national REV UP shared news about voter suppression, advocacy, successes and barriers across the country.

The conference was followed by a training for volunteer polling place evaluators (See 2023 Training Post). This evaluation project continues – PLEASE learn more and volunteer in 2024.

Agenda:

  • 12:30-12:35: Opening remarks discussing the importance of local elections, accessible voting and any news from the Secretary’s office. Bridget Murphy from the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office
  • 12:35-12:50: Overview of voting policy and advocacy across states and at the federal level.  Topics will include John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, The Freedom to Vote Act, Voter Suppression across states, and different advocacy efforts from other REV UP groups and voting rights groups across the country. Alexia Kemmerling, REV UP’s Coordinator for state efforts
    • 12:50-1:00: Q&A
  • 1:00-1:30: Discussion of specific organizations’ services, work in voting rights and current or upcoming advocacy and legislative projects and how voters with disabilities can engage with their work. Representatives from Common Cause, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Stavros and the Provider’s Council’s CareVote Initiative
    • 1:30-1:40: Q&A
  • 1:40-1:50: Overview and update on the state’s electronic accessible vote by mail system, how the system works in local elections and the importance of being aware of and utilizing accessible electronic vote by mail. Tatum Pritchard, Disability Law Center
    • 1:50-2:00 Q&A
  • 2:00-2:15 Close of main Webinar and short break before Polling Place Survey Training
  • 2:15-3:15: Training presentation on how to recognize accessibility violations at polling locations and report them in real time to Disability Law Center with a new detailed survey tool. The training will also teach attendees how to fully survey and monitor polling places in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help America Vote Act, so that volunteers can help Disability Law Center in their mission to keep voting in Massachusetts accessible for everyone. Tom Murphy and Emily Almeda-Lopez from Disability Law Center

‘We depend on each other’: A community driven to vote -Georgia

November 3, 2022 | Atlanta and Decatur, Ga.

The Christian Science Monitor

People with disabilities have faced access challenges at the polls, and some now see those rising. Their pushback: helping each other to be counted.

November 3, 2022 | Atlanta and Decatur, Ga.

For many voters, the act of casting a ballot has become easier. There are mail-in options, drop boxes, early-voting periods. States have maintained that moves to prevent cheating have not limited access. 

People with disabilities have gained too, but they still face hurdles. Many lack access to vehicles or public transportation, making it nearly impossible to vote in person. Suzanne Thornton hopes to change that.

“I kept seeing free rides … to the polls,” says Thornton, a veteran with limited mobility who lives in Decatur, Georgia. “And I’d call them and say, ‘Do you have an accessible van?’ And they’re like, ‘No.’ So if you were in a wheelchair, you couldn’t get a ride.”

Thornton, who goes by “Zan” and uses gender neutral pronouns, organized free wheelchair-accessible rides to the polls for more than 150 people during the 2020-2021 U.S. Senate special election in Georgia. They are continuing this work for the 2022 midterms.

In general elections, there’s been a persistent gap between the turnout rates of voters with and without disabilities. If this gap were closed, there would be an estimated 1.75 million more votes. For Thornton and other people with disabilities, ensuring that everyone who wants to vote has access sometimes means finding creative solutions together.

“If you had to count on my energy, I don’t think we can get to 200, not even to 100,” Thornton says about getting people to the polls. “It’s just working through community. And that’s what the disability community is, working together.”

2022 REV UP MA Conference

July 21, 2022

Download the full agenda (pdf).

Videos

Panel 1 – 2022 Midterm Elections & The Disability Community

Panel Discussion on VOTES Act & Other Issues related to Voting Access

  • Moderator: Charlie Carr – Disability Policy Consortium
  • Nancy Brumback – League of Women Voters, Vice Chair of MA Legislation Committee
  • Bridget Simmons Murphy – Project Manager, Elections Division, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
  • Sarah Groh – Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Pressley

Panel 2 –Disability Law Center Wants to Hear from You

What are Your Concerns about the Upcoming Election

  • Nancy Murphy – Front Desk and Intake Unit Managing Attorney, Disability Law Center
  • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
  • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center

Panel 3 Part 1 – The Power of the Disability Vote

GOTV Midterm Elections

  • Moderator – Rachel Tanenhaus – City of Cambridge
  • Michelle Bishop – Voter Access & Engagement Manager, National Disability Rights Network
  • Lilian Aluri – REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator, American Association of People with Disabilities

Panel 3 Part 2 – Stories from Advocates

  • Moderator – Rachel Tanenhaus – City of Cambridge
  • Tamara Huntley – Licensed Social Worker, Lead Trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
  • Melissa Shang – Disability Activist, Student at Harvard College

Messages from our Coalition Partners

  • Charlie Carr – Disability Policy Consortium
  • Leo Sarkissian – The Arc of Massachusetts

Panel 4 – The Basics of Voting in 2022 and Closing Remarks

Voting, Voter Education, and Voter Accommodations

Download the Basics of Voting powerpoint (pdf) that is referenced in Panel 4.

  • Marlene Sallo – Director, Preventing Targeted Violence, McCain Institute
  • Julia Kupferman – Communications & Civic Engagement Organizer, Mass Voters Table
  • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center

Closing Remarks

  • Rick Glassman – Director of Advocacy at Disability Law Center

Panelist and Speaker Biographies

In order of appearance:

Barbara L'Italian - white woman with short blonde hair, wearing a blue blazer

Barbara L’Italian has been a leading advocate at the intersection between politics, law, health care and policy for twenty-five years. She served as both a State Representative and State Senator in the Massachusetts Legislature, focusing on the rights and needs of people with disabilities, seniors, people who are economically disadvantaged and the LGBTQ community. Her advocacy concerning Autism built the service delivery system for educational, social-emotional, and medical support and included establishing and chairing the first Autism Commission and passing comprehensive mandated medical insurance coverage. “I am honored to join the Disability Law Center in continuing to fulfill their mission,” Barbara remarks. “Working in concert with DLC’s dedicated Board and talented Staff, I look forward to building upon the existing coalition work, advocacy efforts, public profile and financial resources of the organization.”

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley - Black woman with no hair, wearing a black shirt, sitting in front of an American flag

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policymaker, an activist, and a survivor. On November 6, 2018, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  She is a dedicated activist who’s devoted to creating robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences. She believes that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power and that a diversity of voices in the political process is essential to making policies that benefit more Americans.

Charlie Carr - white man with white hair, wearing a button up shirt and tie, sitting in front of a disability rights sign

Charlie Carr is a disability rights pioneer who has been active in the independent living and disability rights community for over 40 years. He was institutionalized for seven years in his youth and fought his way out by laying the groundwork for the Boston Center for Independent Living in 1974. He went on to start his own Independent Living Center, the Northeast Independent Living Program in Lawrence, MA in 1980 and grew it to become a premier ILC nationally.

In 2007, he entered public service and was the commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission until 2015. Today, he is working as the Disability Policy Consortium Legislative Liaison working on state and federal legislative advocacy, policy and coalition building.

Nancy Brumback - white woman with short brown hair, wearing a green collared shirt, standing in front of a white wall

Nancy Brumback is vice-chair of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts’ legislation committee.  She is the League’s liaison to the coalition that drafted and advocated for the VOTES Act.  Nancy is a past director of the state League of Women Voters.

Tatum Pritchard - white woman with medium length brown hair, wearing a black blazer and standing in front of a white wall

Tatum Pritchard joined the Disability Law Center as the Director of Litigation in May 2019. Since 2020, Tatum has engaged in systemic litigation and advocacy to make accessible electronic remote voting systems available to voters whose disabilities prevent them from privately and independently casting a standard print ballot. These efforts include DLC’s successful 2020 cases in the Supreme Judicial Court and federal district court, 2021 settlement with the City of Boston and advocacy efforts ensure the addition of accessible electronic voting language into the VOTES Act. Tatum has devoted her career to challenging systemic inequities and upholding the rights of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations through litigation in a number of settings. Before coming to DLC, she did so as an attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services, Strategic Litigation Consultant for the International Justice Resource Center, a visiting attorney at the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, and a Public Defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

Bridget Simmons Murphy - white woman with medium length blonde hair, wearing a black zip up shirt

Bridget Simmons Murphy is a Project Manager in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division.  In January 2006 Bridget joined the Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin’s office with the primary focus to ensure the voting process is accessible to all voters in Massachusetts by providing training to local election officials, surveying polling locations, providing assistance with all aspects of the accessible voting units, and working on the Accessible Vote by Mail team.

Sarah Groh - white woman with long brown hair, wearing a green shirt with a blue blazer

Sarah Groh is Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.  In this role, Sarah leads policy, strategy and day to day management for the Office. and draws on her expertise in policy, communications, coalition building, and operations.  A longtime resident of the Massachusetts 7th Congressional district, Sarah is proud to serve her home Congressional district and work for Congresswoman Pressley, a seasoned policy maker and unapologetic advocate committed to advancing justice for all people.

Nancy Murphy - white woman with medium-long brown hair, wearing a red-orange shirt, standing in a kitchen.

Nancy Murphy is the Front Desk and Intake Unit Managing Attorney at the Disability Law Center. Attorney Murphy focuses on individual and systemic advocacy for individuals with disabilities living in the community and in facilities. Attorney Murphy specializes in investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, ensuring appropriate discharge planning from a facility, and protecting individuals’ human rights in any setting.

Amelia Fowler - white woman with short pink hair, wearing a black hoodie, standing in front of a wooden fence.

Amelia Fowler is the Voting Rights Advocate with Disability Law Center. She has several years of direct practice experience as a social worker. In the past few years, Amelia has been doing community organizing and voting rights work with diverse communities.

Amelia worked tirelessly to create and coordinate this 2022 REV UP MA Conference.

Rachel Tanenhaus - white woman with short hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a red and black floral dress, sitting next to a black poodle and in front of multiple flags.

Rachel H. Tanenhaus, MPH is the ADA Coordinator/Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities. She has provided technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accessible information technology and other access-related topics for over twenty years and has been participating in disability awareness panels since she was ten years old. Rachel is a current member of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind’s Regional Advisory Council for Region 3.

Michelle Bishop - white woman with short curly brown hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a black and white stripped sweater over an orange shirt.

Michelle Bishop is the Voter Access and Engagement Manager at the National Disability Rights Network, where she leads a team to support the protection and advocacy network on voting rights and voter engagement for people with disabilities. Michelle also works in coalition with the civil rights community in Washington, DC to ensure strong federal policy regarding voting rights and election administration from a voter-centric and intersectional perspective.

Lilian Aluri - medium brown skin woman with long black hair and bangs, wearing a stripped collared shirt, standing in front of a white wall.

Lilian Aluri is the REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator at the American Association of People with Disabilities, also called AAPD.  She works together with REV UP organizers to advance the power of the disability vote, research voting accessibility issues, and support AAPD’s broader advocacy.  In this role, Lilian seeks to advance the rights and inclusion of the diverse disability community at AAPD and beyond. 

Tamara Huntley - white woman with short brown hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a purple floral shirt.

Tamara Huntley is a self-advocate and single mom of two thriving teenagers who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Bridgewater State University.  She is a licensed social worker who currently works as a Lead trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. For over 10 years, Tamara has been training others to learn how to advocate for themselves and define their own future goals.  

Melissa Shang - Asian American woman, with black hair pulled back, wearing a white top.

Melissa Shang is a Disability Activist and a Student at Harvard College.

Julia Kupferman - white woman with medium length curly brown hair, wearing a flowy white shirt, standing in front of a wall.

Julia Kupferman is the Communications and Civic Engagement Organizer at the Massachusetts Voter Table (MVT.)  She joined the MVT team as a Tisch Summer Fellow in June 2020 and has continued working with MVT ever since. Previously, Julia gained field experience through working on several campaigns as well as organizing with J Street U during college as the national president. Julia is excited to fight for racial justice and economic equality at MVT. 

Marlene Sallo - Latina woman with short brown hair, wearing a black dress, standing in front of a tree.

Marlene Sallo serves as the Director for Preventing Targeted Violence at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. Prior to joining the McCain Institute, Marlene served as the Executive Director of the Disability Law Center (DLC) of Massachusetts. Under her leadership, DLC secured a critical victory in federal court that ensured Massachusetts voters with print and visual disabilities could exercise their right to vote privately and independently in the 2020 general election.

Barry Finegold - white man with short brown hair, wearing a blue collar shirt, standing in an office.

Senator Barry Finegold

has served for over two decades in the State Legislature. He currently is the State Senator for the Second Essex and Middlesex District, which includes Andover, Dracut, Lawrence, and Tewksbury. He chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws and the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity.

Senator Finegold also is a founding and managing partner of Dalton & Finegold, LLP, specializing in Residential Real Estate and Commercial Real Estate. He lives in Andover with his wife, Amy, and his three children, Ava, Ella and Max.

Cynthia Creem - white woman with short blonde hair, wearing a pin-stripped collared shirt and black blazer.

Senator Cynthia Creem, Majority Leader, has served in a public capacity for more than 30 years, first as a member and President of the Newton Board of Aldermen, and then as a member of the Governor’s Council prior to becoming a State Senator in 1999.

Full Agenda

Download the full agenda (pdf).

  • Welcome and Housekeeping10:00 – 10:15am
  • Opening Remarks – 10:15am to 10:30am
    • Barbara L’Italien – Executive Director, Disability Law Center
    • Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley – Representative for the 7th District of Massachusetts
  • 2022 Midterm Elections & The Disability Community: Panel Discussion on VOTES Act & Other Issues related to Voting Access – 10:30am – 11:30am
    • Moderator: Charlie Carr – Disability Policy Consortium
    • Nancy Brumback – League of Women Voters, Vice Chair of MA Legislation Committee
    • Bridget Simmons Murphy – Project Manager, Elections Division, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
    • Sarah Groh – Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Pressley
  • Disability Law Center Wants to Hear from You: Your Concerns about the Upcoming Election – 11:30am – 12:15pm
    • Nancy Murphy – Front Desk and Intake Unit Managing Attorney, Disability Law Center
    • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
    • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center
  • Lunch Break12:15pm – 12:45pm
  • The Power of the Disability Vote, GOTV Midterm Elections – 12:45 pm – 2:10 pm
    • Moderator – Rachel Tanenhaus – City of Cambridge
    • Michelle Bishop – Voter Access & Engagement Manager, National Disability Rights Network
    • Lilian Aluri – REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator, American Association of People with Disabilities
    • Tamara Huntley – Licensed Social Worker, Lead Trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
    • Melissa Shang – Disability Activist, Student at Harvard College
    • REV UP Mass! – Coalition Partners Speak
  • The Basics of Voting in 2022: The Basics of Voter Registration, Voting, Voter Education, and Voter Accommodations (presentation) – 2:15pm – 3:00pm
    • Marlene Sallo – Director, Preventing Targeted Violence, McCain Institute
    • Julia Kupferman – Communications & Civic Engagement Organizer, Mass Voters Table
    • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center
  • Closing Remarks – 3:00pm – 3:15pm
    • Rick Glassman – Director of Advocacy at Disability Law Center

Our active coalition partners include:

  • Disability Law Center
  • Disability Policy Consortium
  • Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council
  • Mass. Advocates Standing Strong
  • MASS Rainbow
  • MetroWest Center for Independent Living
  • The Arc of Massachusetts
  • and more

Amelia Fowler (she/they)  

afowler@dlc-ma.org
Voting Rights Advocate
Disability Law Center, Inc.  
Direct phone/fax/text: 617-221-8451

2021 Disability Vote Summit

The National Disability Rights Network and the American Association of People with Disabilities will be hosting the 2021 Disability Vote Summit on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 12:00 – 4:00 PM EST. At the virtual Summit, we will explore:

  • The power of the disability vote
  • Lessons learned from 2020 turnout
  • How to use data to mobilize the disability vote

Confirmed presenters include representatives from the National Disability Rights Network, the National Federation of the Blind, SABE Go Voter Project, and more! Join national disability advocates, state and local organizers, policymakers, and others who are working to get out the disability vote.

If you have any questions, please contact Lilian Aluri at laluri@aapd.com or Jack Rosen at jack.rosen@ndrn.org.

Visit AAPD’s website to learn more about National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW), which is from September 13-20, and how you can get involved. 

American Sign Language interpreters and CART live-captioning services will be available for this event.

National Disability Voter Registration Week 2021

Updated August 16, 2021.

National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) is September 13-20, 2021. Are you ready to get the word out?

AAPD / REVUP Training Video

Make sure you see Marlene Sallo of the Disability Law Center around 40:41 and Colleen Flanagan of Disability Action for America around 48:51. Marlene speaks about the importance of partnerships to the REVUP MA efforts. Colleen introduces Relational Organizing, and talks about how to apply this technique to registering people with disabilities. AAPD REVUP Zoom Meeting

Sign up as a partner for NDVRW!

Use this sign-up form to let us know you want to join NDVRW.

Start Planning

  • Find local community and organization partners.
  • Decide on your event or initiative and plan the details.
  • Tell us about your event so we can add it to our website!
  • Gather materials and volunteers as needed.
  • Publicize your event or initiative.
  • Track your success (for example, number of voters registered, event attendees, materials distributed, events hosted) and share it with us afterwards.

Use AAPD / REV UP toolkits and resources!

Visit aapd.com/advocacy/voting/national-disability-voter-registration-week/ for ideas and tool kits.

REV UP National Call on June 24 at 3:30pm EST

Join the AAPD (American Association of People with Disabilities) upcoming REV UP National Call on June 24 at 3:30pm EST! The REV UP team hosted several webinars this spring, and we are excited to resume our quarterly meeting to connect face to face (virtually) with the REV UP network.

The REV UP National Call will take place on zoom and will be a time for advocates, partners, and organizers in the REV UP network across the country to share updates on how they’ve been building the power of the disability vote. We will also discuss plans for the National Disability Voter Registration Week, September 13-17 and 20. Register for the REV UP National Call.

If you would like to share updates about how you or your organization has been engaged in voting work or if you have particular questions you would like us to answer, please contact Lilian Aluri at laluri@aapd.com or let us know in your registration form. The call will include ASL interpreting and CART, and to request additional accommodations, you can also email Lilian Aluri at laluri@aapd.com.
 

We hope you will join us and Happy Juneteenth!

The REV UP National call will include American Sign Language interpreting and CART captioning.