Donald Trump likes to talk about how the election is rigged, but if anything is rigged it’s the shockingly low numbers of Americans who are interested in participating in the process.
The United States electorate has seen a dramatic increase in voter registration, particularly among people of color due to Trump’s statements. According to a Guardian report, Trump’s attacks on people of color and people with disabilities has prompted an uprising in voter participation.
But when it comes to people with disabilities the numbers just aren’t there. A new report reveals that people with disability face unbelievable barriers. Many are treated like “second-class citizens” despite efforts to pass legislation to ensure voting sites provide access to people with disabilities.
For some, the access is about public transportation that helps people with disabilities get to their polling place. For others, it’s about a polling place that is in a building that isn’t handicapped accessible. The only other alternative options are voting by mail or working with someone who can assist them casting a vote. However, these substitutes hardly make the system an inclusive one and make the voter uncomfortable either from privacy or preventing the voter from making their own choice.
That isn’t all. Election materials and online voter registration aren’t typically available for those who have visual impairments. Add to that a poll worker who isn’t trained to handle someone with a disability and it makes the experience even more difficult.
Physical disabilities aren’t the only problem either. Groups like Mind and Rethink Mental Illness have argued for years that the nation’s most vulnerable like the homeless with mental health problems face even greater barriers.
All of these factors put one in seven disabled Americans in a difficult position simply to fulfill their Constitutional rights.
These examples aren’t anecdotal either, in 2013, the Government Accountability Office calculated that 73 percent of polling locations had some kind of “potential impediment” to a person with disability voting. The research looked at voting in 27 states, a substantial number of people were blocked from voting or have restrictions on their voting rights.
The 2016 election put attacking people with disabilities front and center after Donald Trump mocked a New York Times reporter who has a condition that limits the ability of using of his joints. So while many groups like Latinos and African Americans are fight back against Trump with their votes, those with disability are having a tougher time of it.