Right to Vote Depends on Transportation Access to the Polls

Author: Sheryl Gross-Glaser

Published: November 5, 2019

Even though it's an off-year, there are still important elections to pay attention to at the state and local levels. During this year's election, it's important to think about mobility and how that affects people's ability to participate in having their voices heard.

2018 election results are in for voting data relating to people with disabilities. While every group showed increased voting participation in the 2018 election, including people with disabilities, the gap in the percentages of those who voted and those who did not widened in last November between people with disabilities and others. Fact sheet: Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2018 Elections (PDF), a 10-page report from the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, analyzes data about who is voting, who is not, and the self-reported reasons that people with disabilities give for choosing not to exercise their rights. (Rutgers University is the state university of New Jersey.) The differences in voter turnout between people with disabilities and the general population are seen among people with disabilities who do not hold jobs. People with disabilities who are employed vote in the same numbers as other employed people.

The overall gap translates into a significant under-representation of people with disabilities at all levels of government. People with disabilities vote less than others, an almost five-percentage-point voting gap, which means a deficit of 2.35 million votes across the country.

The report displays the percentages of eligible voters with disabilities who have different sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities, as well as those who have functional difficulties. In terms of the big picture, seven percent of people with disabilities who did not vote noted problems with transportation as a barrier to access to polling places. State-by-state percentages are given for turnout for the voter population as a whole and for people with disabilities.

The estimated 14.3 million voters with disabilities compares with an estimated 15.2 million African-Americans and 11.7 million Hispanics/Latinos who reported voting in 2018, based on analysis of this voting supplement. It should be noted that the disability total may be understated because these disability measures may not capture several types of disability.

 

This post originally appeared in NCMM's August 2019 Newsletter.

Image credit: Keith Ivey, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

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