New laws passed in many states requiring voters to present valid state or federal identification are bringing back to light a subject often overlooked in the modern American political landscape: disabled voter disenfranchisement. As many as 37 states have passed or are considering voted ID legislation, which could potentially affect, amongst other groups, disabled and elderly voters disproportionately. Disabled and elderly voters are less likely to have ID, and would be prevented from voting under the new or proposed laws. There are also other alarming trends.
A recent study by Rutgers University reveals disabled and elderly voters were disproportionately less likely to vote, a new article by NBC reports. According to the study, disabled and elderly voters were 7% less likely to vote than other groups of voters. The reason? In short, mobility. The study reports that despite court rulings, less than 33% of polling places were completely obstruction-free.
How is this possible in modern America? How can a federal court order be so blatantly flouted? One way state and local governments dodge the order is by allowing absentee ballots and curbside voting. Absentee ballots are ballots mailed in by the voter ahead of the election date. Curbside voting involves mobility-challenged voters staying in their cars while poll workers bring their ballot out to them and assist them in voting. Both of these methods, however, have drawbacks.
Many disabled voters feel that while these options are convenient, some feel they are poor substitutes for voters who want to vote traditionally. Absentee ballots must be mailed well ahead of election dates to ensure they are valid, and hence voters may miss the opportunity to change their planned vote at the last minute due to late breaking developments with a particular party or candidate. In addition, absentee ballots are often not counted unless the race is close. With approximately 11% of voters currently disabled and as many as 36% of voters of 65 disabled, this can lead to the disenfranchisement of a large segment of the population. Voters 65 and older alone comprise 17% of registered voters. Curbside voting is usually counted in the regular vote, but can sometimes lead voters to feel embarrassed or as if they are burdening overworked poll workers. This can lead many disabled voters to avoid using it where available, leading to a drop in the number of disabled people casting ballots.
“People with disabilities should have the same options as everyone else has,” Lisa Schur, a Rutgers University associate professor, said in the article. “Voting in a polling place is an important and symbolic ritual.” Do you feel the same, but are having trouble with your mobility or having trouble accessing your polling place? Pacific Mobility Solutions is here to help.
How Can Pacific Mobility Solutions Help You?
If you are disabled and/or suffering mobility difficulties, please come and see us or call us at (760) 471-8884 to schedule an appointment or drop on in to take a free test drive one of our powerchairs and to find out more about having your vehicle equipped. Many of our powerchairs are capable of negotiating many of the obstacles you may find in real-world situations such as polling places. We’d love to help you find the right one for you, and we can even help you with the Medicare paperwork. We also rent powerchairs and scooters. Come see us today!
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)