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AAPD Releases Report on COVID-19 and the Disability Vote, Urging Immediate Action to Ensure Safe and Accessible Voting During the Pandemic

by | Sep 13, 2020 | Press Release

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2020

Contact: Lilian Aluri, laluri@aapd.com

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has published a nonpartisan policy report COVID-19 and the Disability Vote, urging federal, state, and local governments to take immediate action and ensure that voters can cast a ballot safely, accessibly, and securely in the 2020 general election.

This report explores how COVID-19 has both created and worsened a variety of accessibility barriers that disenfranchise voters with disabilities. For many people with disabilities who face a higher health risk from COVID-19, in-person voting is too risky. However, vote-by-mail and absentee voting present other accessibility barriers to voters with disabilities. Nationwide, disability and voting rights organizations are already engaged in advocacy and litigation to fight voter suppression.

“This election season will be remembered for taking place during a global public health crisis, outrage over systemic racial injustice, natural disasters across the U.S., and a hyper-polarized political climate” said Maria Town, President and CEO of AAPD. “It has never been more important to make participating in our democracy safe, accessible, and equitable for all. As voters with disabilities, we should have the same opportunity to vote and mobilize the power of our community.  We have the road map towards more equitable elections, and it is up to federal, state, and local governments to take action now to make our democracy work for all voters.”

AAPD Board Chair Ted Kennedy, Jr., said, “Voters with disabilities are now more politically aware, organized and engaged than ever before – because our civil rights and access to health care are continuously under attack. Candidates are finally waking up to the influence and power of the disability vote, and we cannot let COVID-19 roll back the progress we have made!”

This report outlines key actions that federal, state, and local governments must take to safeguard our democracy in the midst of a public health crisis. Thankfully many states have already adopted a few of these policies. In 2020, 38 million eligible voters with disabilities have the opportunity to cast a ballot in the general election, and turnout among voters with disabilities has been growing faster in recent years than voter turnout growth in the rest of the population. These recommendations will not only remove accessibility barriers to voting, but will also help maximize the power of disability vote.

State & County Election Offices:

  • Make sure all voters can register to vote and cast a ballot remotely.
  • Allow voters with disabilities to receive and mark their ballot digitally.
  • Make in-person voting safe and accessible with early voting, curbside voting, and more.
  • Educate voters on voting rights, options, and safety in multiple and accessible formats.
  • Ensure voters in congregate settings can register to vote and cast their ballot.
  • Explore, innovate, and test electronic voting methods.

Federal Government:

  • Ensure states have the funding needed to make voting safe and accessible this election.
  • Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2020 for equitable elections.
  • Restore the United States Postal Service’s capacity to deliver election mail on time.


Read the full report.


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AAPD is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.

AAPD’s REV UP Campaign aims to increase the political participation of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues. REV UP works with state and national coalitions on effective, non-partisan campaigns to address the concerns of people with disabilities, eliminate barriers to voting, promote accessibility of voting; educate communities about issues and candidates; promote turnout of voters with disabilities across the country; and engage candidates and the media on disability issues. REV UP stands for Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power! Learn more about REV UP at www.aapd.com/revup.