Ryan and I began our day as usual.
Up at 5:30 a.m. and drove over to LECOM by 6 a.m. However, we had one important addition to our morning routine — we voted! As soon as Ryan turned 18, he registered to vote and has been voting in each and every election since then. We’ve discussed the importance of voting, and why you should never, ever miss. Prior to the election, we review the ballot and discuss the various responsibilities of each of the positions being voted on. He is always especially interested in the judgeships because he knows that only lawyers can be judges, and his Uncle Thomas was a judge. Of course, there is also his fascination with Law & Order!
The latest US Census estimates that one in five Americans live with a disability or chronic condition. That’s over 56 million! Despite this very large percentage of our population, little is known about their voting habits. However, in May of 2013, a group called the Youth Transitions Collaborative conducted a survey to look at the voting patterns, habits and political views of people with disabilities. The results were published July 2013 and titled, “Power in Numbers: A Profile of American Voters with Disabilities.”
The findings, which were relatively unknown, revealed very interesting and potent information about this community. Nearly 70% are registered — this is close to the national average of 72%. And over 80% say that a candidate’s record on supporting programs and services for people with disabilities is “somewhat or very important,” so much so that they would consider voting against a candidate who was in favor of cuts to these programs/services.
The potential strength of the disability community at the polls is significant, and growing. The study also showed that younger individuals with a disability (ages 18-30) were more likely to act on issues affecting them and even more apt to vote.
With funding always in jeopardy, it is important to continue to make our elected officials aware of the serious issues facing persons with disabilities. Advocacy is an essential part of this process; we must keep our issues front and center.
Every vote matters! Let your voice be heard!