I Voted 2012 StickerThe National Council on Disability and the Research Alliance for Accessible Voting have both released new reports on the Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle and Disability, Voter Turnout, and Voting Difficulties in the 2012 Elections.

They found that 15.6 million people with disabilities reported voting in the November 2012 elections. Their turnout rate was 5.7 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities, meaning 3 million more voters with disabilities would have participated if they voted at the same rate as people without disabilities. Additionally in 2012,

  • 30.1% of voters with disabilities reported difficulty in voting at a polling place, compared to 8.4% of voters without disabilities.
  • Over one-fourth of voters with disabilities voted by mail, compared to one-sixth of people without disabilities. Among people with disabilities who voted by mail, about one-tenth reported difficulties and the need for assistance in filling out or sending the ballot.
  • Almost one-third of voters with disabilities required assistance in voting, most commonly given by election officials or family members.

The National Council on Disability noted architectural and physical barriers at registration and polling sites, as nearly 40% of respondents encountered physical barriers at their polling places.

The findings from both reports highlight the ongoing challenges voters with disabilities face in casting a ballot. Through advocacy and voter education we can help ensure that all eligible voters–including those with disabilities–can successfully cast a ballot. An easy way to start is by ensuring that our communities are registered: in 2012, the voter registration rate of people with disabilities was 2.3 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities.

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  • Max Ghenis

    Did the 5.7pp disparity account for other factors like income which also impact turnout and are correlated to disability?

    And if the objective is higher turnout among PwD, how much resources should be devoted to vote-by-mail vs. accessibility?