Ready to vote in Minnesota’s primary election Tuesday, August 14 and in the general election Tuesday, November 6? Voters with disabilities have a wide range of resources available.
Who can vote in Minnesota? A voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on Election Day and a resident of Minnesota for 20 days. Anyone under guardianship can vote unless the right to vote has been specifically revoked by a judge. Voting rights are revoked if a person has been found to be legally incompetent.
Anyone who has been convicted of a felony must be finished with all parts of his or her felony sentence before being allowed to vote.
The Arc Minnesota is working with its regional offices, community partners, other self-advocacy groups and statewide stakeholders to let people know about the importance of voting to the disability community. People with disabilities are all too often underrepresented at the polls.
People with disabilities accounted for more than 35 million eligible voters in 2016 nationally. That number jumps to 62 million eligible voters when family members are included. But fewer than half of individuals with disabilities participated in that election.
The Arc Minnesota and other advocate groups wish to demonstrate the power of the disability vote. As more people with disabilities vote, more community members have a say in disability policy at the national, state and local levels.
The campaign to get out the disability community vote has the hashtags #DisabilityVoteMN and #RevUpMN. The Arc Minnesota is also making signs available, where people with disabilities can state Voting Matters to Me Because. Print and fill out the sign, and post it on social media to join a statewide and national coalition to share the importance of the disability vote.
The American Association of People with Disabilities is working with advocacy groups around the nation on the REV UP campaign. REV UP stands for Register, Educate, Vote, Use your Power. The REV UP Campaign intends to increase the political power of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues.
Full political participation for Americans with disabilities is a top priority, according to AAPD. AAPD works with state and national coalitions on effective, non-partisan campaigns to eliminate barriers to voting, promote accessibility of voting technology and polling places; educate voters about issues and candidates; promote turnout of voters with disabilities across the country; engage candidates and the media on disability issues, and protect eligible voters’ right to participate in elections.
Some people with disabilities vote absentee, by receiving a ballot in the mail, marking it and sending it back in. Contact officials in your home county or city for information on getting an absentee ballot, or contact the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.
Absentee balloting for the general election starts on September 21, just a few days before National Voter Registration Day on September 25. The last day to register in advance of the general election is October 16. But Minnesotans who bring proper identification and proof of a current address can register at the polls on Election Day. Registration at the polls can also be accomplished by going to the polls with someone who is registered to vote in the precinct. That person can act as a voucher and help an unregistered voter register.
Minnesotans can register online with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, on paper or on Election Day with proper identification. At the polls registration judges need proof of identity and residency. Specific documents are needed, so make sure those documents are in hand before going to the polls.
Anyone with a disability who votes at the polls on Election Day or during early in-person voting has the right to ask for accommodations. These can include having a ballot taken out to a vehicle for curbside voting, or asking for assistance at the polls.
Voters can get assistance from someone who accompanies them, if the person assisting is not influencing. Otherwise, ask the head judge at the polling place for assistance with filling out a ballot or for help with special voting equipment for people with visual disabilities.
Lots of resources are online for anyone wishing to vote this fall. The Arc Minnesota has many links in its public policy section. Go to www.arcminnesota.org.
The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office also has a wealth of voting information. Look for the elections tab on the main website, at www.sos.state.mn.us.
Check the AAPD website for more information on REVUP, at www.aapd.com.
Another group that provides useful information for voters with disabilities is Self-Advocates becoming Empowered, or SABES, a national group. Learn more about SABES and its work at www.sabeusa.org.