Don’t Complain if You Don’t Vote

Election Day is coming fast! Statistics tell us that 21% of Americans with disabilities do not vote—that’s about 8 million potential voters. “Why should they vote,” you ask? Perhaps these statistics about people with disabilities will answer that question:

• 35% are employed, compared to the national average of 78%

• 26% live in poverty (making below $15,000 a year), compared to 9% for the non-disabled

• 14% of total Medicaid recipients in Minnesota are disabled

• 13% of total Medicare recipients in Minnesota are disabled

When people with disabilities do not vote, it is very likely that the services they are receiving are being decided without their input. It’s one thing to complain about your health care after you’ve voted for who you wanted in office; however, complaining doesn’t seem appropriate when you haven’t voted at all.

Undoubtedly, people with disabilities still face barriers when it comes to voting. 29% of those who don’t vote do not have accessible transportation to the polls. And 21% have inaccessible polling places. These barriers, however, should not prevent the practice of a fundamental right. The creation and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act is proof that people with disabilities can be a voice to be reckoned with and have great influence over elected officials. I hope the numbers above help you realize that as a person with a disability, it is paramount that you vote. And if those numbers don’t add up to you, then maybe this math will:

Voting = Elected Officials = Policies That Directly Impact You = How Your Everyday Life Is Affected.

FFI: Mai Thor, Minnesota Disability Law Center, 612-746-3799, mthor@midmnlegal.org