The overall voter turnout rate in the November 2016 elections was 6.3 percent lower among people with disabilities (55.9 percent) compared with those without disabilities (62.2 percent). But people with disabilities who are employed turned out at virtually the same rate as people without disabilities who are employed (64.7 percent to 63.6 percent). The “disability gap” is highlighted in a report released yesterday by the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.
Polling place accessibility remains a persistent issue affecting turnout. An earlier study by Professor Lisa Schur, one of the authors of the new report, found that 30 percent of people with disabilities had problems voting at polling places in 2012, compared to 8 percent of people without disabilities.
Advocates of greater accessibility are taking their case directly to the politicians: This is National Disability Voter Registration Week and it’s being marked at an event in front of the State House in Trenton today. Along with Senate President Steve Sweeney, speakers will include a co-author of the Rutgers report, Distinguished Professor Douglas Kruse, who has said that, “Standard turnout predictors such as education and income do not fully account for the disability gap. It’s also due to many people with disabilities being socially isolated and perceiving that public officials are less responsive to their needs.”