Earlier this week, we celebrated the 26th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act being signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. This was a monumental moment for the equal treatment of US Citizens with disabilities, but nonprofit organizations and other advocacy groups push forward with new advocacy to remind us more work is left to be done. The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness specifically about disability voting rights to make sure everyone has the information they need to get out and vote comfortably!
The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 was passed 16 years ago and a program under this law was the Help America Vote Act (2002). This act focuses on the voting rights of US citizens with disabilities to increase overall participation in the voting process and offer the proper public accommodations to vote “independently and privately.” Under HAVA, Protection and Advocacy Groups (P&A’s) are eligible for grants and are responsible to ensure that the proper technology and accommodations are in place for people with disabilities to vote comfortably. Check out who the State Protection and Advocacy Systems are in your state!
Eligible nonprofits can also partner with P&A’s to determine the effectiveness of new technologies and practices to increase the accessibility of voting for those with disabilities.
To reinforce the voting rights guaranteed under the Help America Vote Act, the Elections Assistance Committee (EAC) received $8 million from Congress in 2014 to fund two grants to develop the Accessible Voting Technology Initiative (AVTI). The result of these grants were 45 research and development solutions as well as administrative suggestions to ensure all Americans have the equal opportunity to vote.
Please consider these strides we have taken so far in ensuring equal voting rights for all American’s during this elections season and continue to advocate for programs that are making progress for people with disabilities.