As a member of the disability community, I have been treated to numerous get out to vote campaigns,
projects, and efforts. Recently I observed another such effort just getting started in one of the states as
a spin-off of a national campaign. It appears to me that these efforts generally include the same
Lots of materials telling people the why, when, where and how of voting
Candidate forums at which few if any candidates show up except for those who by the numbers
have no chance of winning
Fancy logos and tag lines that come and go with little impact
Committees, oh yes lots of committees
After the election, they die and disappear
Then as the next election approaches, they begin again having done nothing in the interim to bolster
their effectiveness. They do not:
Build new contacts
Hold events to question elected officials
Issue report cards on how the elected are treating our issues
They, in short, no longer exist.
The question is do we want to win and be taken seriously?
Why don’t candidates respond to our forums or questionnaires? Simply put they do not count us as an
important voting block. People with disabilities and their friends and families as a group are a larger
voting block than any other minority group. To be a voting block though we must act like one. We must
organize and make our presence felt. We must be blamed for the defeat of candidates and the victory of
others. The organizational efforts mentioned above are great but ineffective without instilling the fear of
what we can do. I do not fault the organizations who spend funds on such efforts, but to be truly
effective we must organize differently. We must put emphasis on the kinds of organization that matters
and will make us winners at the ballot box.
Once we become a true force to be reckoned with then we can expect attendance at our candidate
forums, to be equally treated in the media coverage and put people in office who respect our views.
How do we do this, you’re asking? In my opinion we:
Organize as a long term network that works constantly.
We create voter teams that are all about supporting and helping each other vote. We recruit
team leaders from among disability and voting advocates so they can then build local teams.
We connect with the parties to help with registration, transportation, and candidate
information. Let the parties do their jobs for their members.
We utilize our teams to assist in supporting each member of the team in the act of casting their
We utilize these teams to inform voters, but never interfere with their choice of party, candidate
or the other choices that are part of the sacred responsibility of voting.
We maintain these teams long term with regular contact and engagement efforts to grow and
expand the network.
We connect with other groups who are holding candidate forums to get our issues included. Let
them carry the load of organizing such efforts.
We set aside the we must be seen at the polls and get the votes however it is convenient for
each voter. Yes, I am a big proponent of accessible voting, but not at the expense of winning.
We utilize accessible technology when and wherever possible and depend on national, state and
local advocacy organizations to enforce accessible voting requirements.
We centralize the effort at the national level with network teams in every state and local
We self-fund by asking every team member to contribute a small amount of money to be used
to support the networks activities. One dollar a month should be sufficient. Twelve dollars a
year should not be too much to ask to protect our rights and needs.
We should work with nonprofits who have funding to support our efforts in the ways that they
This is a first blush take, but we need an ongoing effort and network like the one outlined above.
The kinds of efforts utilized so far are good, but they are not enough. In some cases, they are also a
great way to make some organizations look like they are doing something. We can collectively fix this
and become a force in American politics.
Now some will read this and be angry, so be it. Be mad at me if you wish. My opinions are that of my
own and not that of Access Ready.
Be as angry with me as you like. Then lets move past the issues raised and do something that will make
us a force in the outcome of the 2020 election and beyond.