Washington, D.C. — A new column from the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress looks at the challenges of ensuring accessible voting with a particular focus on voting by mail. The column finds that voting by mail increases accessibility for some people with disabilities—but that in order to make the upcoming presidential election truly accessible, voting by mail must be paired with in-person voting.
There is not a universal solution when developing a voting system that can meet the needs of the entire disability community. Accommodations for one disability will not necessarily work for another; in some cases, accommodations for one person can actually be an obstacle for another. Voting by mail, for example, may make voting safer for people with certain disabilities, such as those with compromised immunity, but could make voting inaccessible for others, such as blind voters. Many in-person accommodations mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are vital, and they are typically only available at in-person polling locations. CAP recommends that states expand voting by mail as well as in-person early voting. It also recommends that during the pandemic states follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for safe voting during the COVID-19 crisis.
“One in 4 Americans live with a disability. So, a one-size-fits-all approach to making sure this large and diverse group can exercise their right to vote won’t work,” said Sabrina Gonzalez, a fellow with the Disability Justice Initiative through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellowship. “Holding a presidential election during the largest public health crisis in a century presents unique challenges. States should expand vote by mail while following CDC guidelines and the U.S. Department of Justice’s ADA checklist to make sure that disabled voters aren’t excluded this November.”
Read the column: “Vote by Mail Is One of Many Ways To Ensure the Disability Community Is Included in the Next Election” by Sabrina Gonzalez
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