People With Disabilities Vote at Last!
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 disabilities. 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 contributions.
SOURCE National Organization on Disability
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