People With Disabilities Vote at Last!

Oct 06, 1999, 01:00 ET from National Organization on Disability

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Organization on Disability
 announced today the N.O.D. VOTE! 2000 Campaign, a non-partisan effort to
 increase voting participation of people with disabilities in next year's
 elections.  In announcing the campaign, N.O.D. President Alan Reich cited the
 campaign's three objectives: to add 700,000 voters with disabilities; to
 increase registration nationwide of people with disabilities; and to ensure
 that the nation's 120,000 polling places are accessible to all voters with
     The VOTE! 2000 Campaign will be directed by N.O.D. Vice President and
 veteran disability organizer, Jim Dickson.  "If people with disabilities voted
 at the same rate as the non-disabled, 7 million more votes would have been
 cast in the last presidential election.  We are the 'sleeping giant' of
 American politics," Dickson stated.
     People with disabilities vote at a rate 20 percent below non-disabled
 voters.  Poor voter turnout among the disability population is partly a result
 of low registration rates -- most disability service providers are in
 violation of the National Voter Registration Act (The Motor Voter Law), which
 requires them to offer voter registration to their clients.  Disability issues
 seldom surface in election campaigns.  And, inaccessible polling places often
 discourage disabled citizens; the Federal Election Commission reports that
 there are more than 20,000 inaccessible polling places nationwide.
     The campaign will focus on a get-out-the-vote drive in cooperation with
 major disability organizations and their grassroots constituencies.  It will
 call on the Secretaries of State and election officials at all levels to
 ensure that polling places are accessible, and that secret ballots are offered
 to blind voters.  The N.O.D. VOTE! 2000 Campaign will advocate for national
 standards for complete polling place accessibility.
     A highlight of the campaign will be to secure pledges from 2,000 local
 disability service provider agencies that they will conduct get-out-the-vote
 drives for their clients during the elections next year.  "Not being able to
 vote is a denial of citizenship", stated Reich.  "Through this campaign, we
 are asserting our civil right to vote and advancing America's disability
 agenda -- the full and equal participation of America's 54 million people with
 disabilities in all aspects of life."
     Jim Dickson brings great experience to the N.O.D. VOTE! 2000 Campaign.  He
 co-founded Project Vote!, played a key role in the passage of the Motor Voter
 Law, and spearheaded N.O.D.'s successful campaign to ensure that a statue of
 Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair is added to the FDR Memorial in
 Washington, D.C.
     Founded in 1982, N.O.D. is the only national network organization
 concerned with all disabilities, all age groups, and all disability issues.
 N.O.D. accepts no government funds and is supported entirely by private

SOURCE National Organization on Disability