Happy National Disability Voter Registration Week! The REV UP Campaign, launched by the American Association of People with Disabilities, is a nonpartisan initiative that coordinates with national, state, and local organizations to increase the political power of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. National Disability Voter Registration Week is held the third week of July every year.
Even though people with disabilities make up a large percentage of the population (nearly 20% according to REV UP), their political participation has historically been much lower than people without disabilities. According to studies from Rutgers University, the voter turnout rate of people with disabilities was 6 percentage points lower than those without during the 2016 election. The disparity between voters with and without disabilities dropped to 4.7 points in 2018 – a significant improvement over two years. The 2018 study also notes that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without, there would be about 2.35 million more voters nationwide.
This number continues to grow when we consider the ripple effect that legislation impacting people with disabilities has on communities – it’s a vote that connects families, friends, advocates, educators, providers, and more. There is incredible potential to bring disability issues to the forefront and to hold elected officials accountable for policies and decisions that impact people with disabilities.
What are the requirements for registering to vote?
In order to register and vote in Minnesota, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- At least 18 years old on Election Day
- A resident of Minnesota for 20 days
- Finished with all parts of a felony sentence
You can vote while under guardianship unless a judge has specifically revoked your right to vote. This means you can register and vote if you:
- Are under guardianship
- Are under conservatorship
- Gave someone power of attorney
- Have a brain injury
- Have a developmental disability
- Have a cognitive impairment
- Experience memory loss
Make your voice heard! Check your voter registration here, register to vote in Minnesota online here, or download a paper application here (available in multiple languages). If you prefer to have someone help you register to vote in person, the ARC Minnesota is holding two voter registration drives this week:
- Monday, July 15 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Hennepin County Human Services & Public Health, 2215 E Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407
- Thursday, July 18 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at VEAP, 9600 Aldrich Avenue, Bloomington, MN 55420
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Minnesota Secretary of State at mnvotes.org, or by calling 1-877-600-8683.
What accommodations are available for voters?
Voting in Minnesota is also required by law to be accessible. These accommodations include:
- Polling places must be physically accessible.
- Voters have the option to receive assistance from others. Voters can bring anyone to assist them while voting, or the voter can receive assistance from their election judges.
- Voters have the option to sign in orally. Voters have the right to orally confirm their identity, and ask another person to write their name if the voter cannot sign their name.
- Voters can use an accessible voting machine, which is available at most polling places. These voting machines can mark a ballot for you, while giving voters privacy.
- Curbside voting is also available. Voters are allowed to ask a ballot to be brought out to them if they cannot easily leave their vehicle. Two election judges from different parties will bring out a ballot, and when the voter finishes casting their ballot, the election judges will bring the ballot inside and to the ballot box.
Why is it important to vote?
Voting is an integral part of the democratic process. Voters are able to voice their opinions and choose who represents them and their interests. Elected officials make decisions that impact the programs and services people with disabilities rely on to receive healthcare and live independently in the community of their choice. Because officials have this power, it is important that all constituents have voice in choosing their representation.
What elections are coming up?
We are currently in the middle of a nonelection year, though there are a few local municipal and school board elections taking place this year. In November 2020, we will elect one U.S. senator, eight U.S. representatives, all 67 state senators, all 134 state representatives, and the president.
In addition to the general elections, precinct caucuses, and the presidential nomination primary will occur in early 2020. Precinct caucuses will take place February 25, 2020, and the presidential nomination primary will take place on March 3, 2020.