By Renee Davidson, Online Content Associate, League of Women Voters
This weekend marks 24 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law has far-reaching impacts, including making our elections more accessible to Americans with mental or physical disabilities, who make up 1 out of 7 eligible voters. By requiring polling places to provide necessary public accommodations for voters with disabilities, the ADA plays a critical role in helping ensure that all eligible voters have access to the ballot box.
In celebration of the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, here are just a few ways you can help ensure equal access to the ballot for Americans with disabilities.
1. Volunteer as a poll watcher on Election Day. As a volunteer poll watcher, you can play a role in helping ensure proper implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Part of this job includes checking on physical accessibility requirements — including exit ramps, elevators and parking — and ensuring that poll workers are aware of and responsive to the needs of voters with disabilities.
2. Join the fight against restrictive voter ID measures. Voter ID measures, including photo voter ID, disproportionately affect people with disabilities – many of whom lack driver’s licenses – as well as the elderly, students, women, minorities and low-income people. Citizens across the country have fought voter ID measures in their state houses, in court and at the ballot box.
3. Support early and absentee voting options. Research shows that early and absentee voting options play a critical role in increasing voting access for those with mobility impairments or transportation barriers.
4. Help register voters. Americans with disabilities are less likely to be registered to vote than Americans without disabilities. Find your local League of Women Voters to help hold voter registration drives aimed at registering all eligible voters, or sign up to participate in National Voter Registration Day on September 23!
Our democracy is powered by a diversity of voices. Twenty-four years after it was passed, the Americans with Disabilities Act remains critical in ensuring that our electorate is representative of the population as a whole, and that all voters can weigh in on what matters to them most.
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