In the 2020 United States presidential election, voters with disabilities turned out in record numbers.
Despite significant challenges to registering or voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Census Bureau data shows that 62% of voters with disabilities cast ballots in that election, compared with 56% during the 2016 presidential election. This record turnout was due in no small part to expanded voting options, such as mail-in ballots, drop-off boxes, and curbside voting, even though some of these options were inaccessible to some voters with disabilities. However, the voter suppression laws enacted following the 2020 U.S. presidential election threaten to erode these historic political participation gains. These laws aim to reduce voter turnout across a swath of underrepresented and historically marginalized groups, among them persons with disabilities. Disability rights groups across the country have taken legal action to challenge these laws and other barriers to access, winning important victories in Florida, Indiana, New York, and beyond. Ahead of the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, this panel of advocates will take stock of the voting rights of persons with disabilities in the United States, with a special focus on the barriers faced by persons with intellectual disabilities and the role of self-advocates in overcoming them.
Professor Michael Ashley Stein, Harvard Law School Project on Disability
Hezzy Smith, Harvard Law School Project on Disability
Chester Finn, Office of People with Developmental Disabilities
David Hutt, National Disability Rights Network
Teresa Moore, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered
Cheri Mitchell, Georgia Advocacy Office