Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Williamsburg League of Women Voters, REV UP Virginia Partner for Disability Voting Rights Week

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg League of Women Voters is partnering with the American Association of People with Disabilities’ (AAPD) REV UP Voting Campaign for Disability Voting Rights Week, Sept. 11-15, to encourage all citizens to vote.

“We are proud to partner with REV UP Virginia (Register, Educate, Vote, and Use your Power),” said Maryann Simpson, Co-Chair of Voter Services for The Williamsburg Area League, “People with disabilities are regularly left out of the political process and often ignored in policies that directly impact their lives.“

The League will be hosting two events “to build the power of the disability vote in local communities,” it said.  The first event will be held at William and Mary on Sept. 19 from 10 a.m-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. at the Sadler Center, in conjunction with National Voter Registration Day. The second will be held at Christopher Newport University on Sept. 26 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.

At the events, the League said participants will have an opportunity to register to vote, look up their polling place, and see samples of their Nov. 7 ballot.

According to the League, Disability Voting Rights Week is a national, nonpartisan initiative to build the power and presence of the disability vote. Disability Voting Rights Week is coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities’ (AAPD) REV UP Voting Campaign, which is committed to empowering a substantial portion of Virginia’s population — almost 25% or approximately 1.6 million adults with disabilities — by encouraging them to register and participate in the voting process.

“The disability vote exists and is becoming increasingly more powerful. Our goal at REV UP Virginia is to increase the political power and influence of the disability vote to effectuate meaningful change in the lives of disabled Virginians and their families,” said Susan Lydick, co-founder and co-chair of REV UP Virginia.

The League noted a recent study released by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in conjunction with Rutgers University, showed in the 2022 mid-term election, disabled and non-disabled Virginians voted at the same rate — 52.3%. For this year’s election on Nov. 7, all 40 seats of the Virginia Senate and all 100 seats of the Virginia House of Delegates will be up for election.

The League said while the Americans with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote, there is still work to be done. The disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV) completed 500 polling site surveys in cities and counties around the state on Election Day in 2022 to determine if sites are accessible. Approximately 20% of the sites did not have appropriate curbside voting signs, 13% did not have an accessible pathway to the door, and 21% did not have an accessible door that could be opened with a closed fist, it said.

“Our efforts across the Commonwealth are helping to further reduce the uncertainty and hesitancy that many disabled voters may still feel about casting their ballot,” added Helena Berger, co-founder and co-chair of REV UP Virginia. “With over 15% of the Virginia electorate disabled voters, this constituency is too sizable to be overlooked, especially when razor-thin majorities decide national, state, and local elections. The time has come for all elected officials, and those running for office, to address the concerns of their disabled constituents and recognize the power of their vote.”

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