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2016 Presidential Election Information For Citizens with Disabilities
"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.
The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Step 1: Get Fired Up!
“...we the people” have become a silent many. We stood by and watched it all happen. And, we continue to watch, silently as democracy slowly dies, freedom erodes, and our power as a people is lost. We cannot allow this to continue! As advocates we continue to fight because you and the millions of other Americans with disabilities are worth fighting for! But here’s the thing – we can’t fight without you...
Read more of our blog post Nothing About Us Without Us
Step 2: Know Your Rights
There are numerous laws in place to ensure that every eligible voter is given the opportunity to cast a vote. You cannot be turned away at the polls due to a lack of accessibility. Poll workers must accommodate your disability and provide an opportunity for you to vote in a private manner.
For more on Voter Accessibility, refer to the following laws:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote, including voter registration, polling site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during an early voting process.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) requires that any indivdual who is blind, or who has any other disability that prevents them from casting a ballot, be allowed assistance from a person of the voter’s choice (other than the voter's employer or its agent or an officer or agent of the voter's union). Additionally voters cannot be turned away on the basis of illiteracy.
Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting on Election Day.
Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires jurisdictions responsible for conducting federal elections to provide at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive.
There are still thousands of polling places that fail to meet the minimal accessibility guidelines for voters with disabilities. There is still time to contact your County Elections Office to discuss your needs as a voter with a disability. Be sure to share the Americans with Disabilities Act Checklist for Polling Places with the elections officials in your jurisdiction.
Contact the Candidates' Campaigns and ask them to ensure their messages are accessible and reaching voters with disabilities. Forward the following guide to your favorite candidate Creating an Accessible Political Campaign: Practical Tips for Reaching Voters who have Disabilities.
Step 3: Register to Vote
In a number of states you must register to vote as far as 30 days in advance of the election, while in others you can register at the polls on election day. Each state has varying deadlines and requirements for registration (including residency requirements).
Keep in mind that you must be registered with the municipality in which you currently live. So if you've moved, you may have to register again. To learn more about your state's voter registration guidelines, visit Project Vote Smart: Voter Registration or visit CanIVote.org to find out if you are already registered and/or more about your state's registration deadlines and requirements.
You can also contact your State Election Office to ensure you are registered in time for the 2016 election.
Another great resource is The Voter Participation Center. They have a goal to reach the "invisible" Americans, those voting age citizens who are less likely to register, and therefore vote.
You may also wish to get involved in the National Voter Registration Day movement and encourage others to register.
Step 4: Educate Yourself on the Candidates and Their Policies
Do not simply rely on the campaign commercials splashed across your television screen; read up on the candidates' stances on the issues, check out their voting records, get to know them inside and out. We have offered a number of resources below to help you get to know the candidates.
Step 5: Cast Your Vote
What should I bring to the polls?
What if I cannot make it to the polls on Election Day?
If you are unable to go to the polls on election day, there are processes in place that will still allow you to vote. Contact your State Election Office to learn about their Early Voting and Absentee Voting procedures. Be sure to contact them well in advance of the election (at least 2 weeks) to ensure you meet the requirements and deadlines.
- Identification: As of August 10, 2015, 32 states require voters to present some form of ID at the polls. Seven states, including Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, have strict ID requirements, which may require a government issued photo ID. The remaining states have various requirements to present some form of ID. To learn what ID requirements your state has, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures: Voter Identification Requirements: Voter ID Laws.
- Someone to assist you in the polling booth: While the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires that all polling places have at least one accessible voting machine to enable people to vote privately and independently, you are permitted to bring an idividual to assist you, provided they are not an officer or agent of your employer or union.
- A sample ballot and/or your notes on candidates: You can easily create a personalized ballot (with candidate notes) for your jurisdiction by visiting Vote411.
- The number to your State Protection and Advocacy Office
- The Election Protection hotline number (1-866-OUR-VOTE) in the event you encounter difficulty voting.
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As of August 4, 2016
For more on each candidate, visit Vote Smart.
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Sep 26, 2016 - First presidential debate, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Sep 27, 2016 - National Voter Registration Day
Oct 4, 2016 - Vice presidential debate, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Oct 9, 2016 - Second presidential debate, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Oct 19, 2016 - Third presidential debate, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
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Not quite sure which candidates represent your needs and beliefs? Here are a few great tools that can help you get to know the candidates and the issues.
Council on Foreign Relations has developed Campaign: 2016: The Candidates & the World, which provides detailed information on each of the candidates' stance on foreign affairs.
I Side With is an online quiz that matches your positions on Education, the Environment, Domestic Policy, the Economy, Social Welfare, Foreign Policy, Health Care and Immigration with those of the candidates. This tool is a great starting point to help you discover who's policies might align with your hopes for America.
Politifact.com offers the Truth-O-Meter, which measures the truthfulness of statements made by the candidates. They also offer political commentary.
Tax Policy Center provides articles and papers on how taxes impact our nation. Via their 2016 Election Center you can review non-partisan analysis of each candidate's tax plan.
The Respectability Report offers a nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. election with a focus on disability issues.
Vote411 offers comprehensive information on everything you need to vote! With their voters' guide you can see the races on your ballot, compare candidates' positions side-by-side, and print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.
Vote Smart is a comprehensive election tool that provides unbiased facts on all of the candidates. Simply type in the candidate's name and have access to their bio, voting record, policy positions, an archive of their speeches and a list of major campaign contributors.
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[Updated August 4, 2016]
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