With local, state and federal elections looming large, it is up to the disability community to let candidates know the power of the community's vote and to elect politicians with inclusive civil and human rights agendas.
The stakes are high. The economic downturn in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has put programs and services essential to people with disabilities further at risk. As politicians are forced to prioritize spending, legislative and policy decision-making, the disability community must unite at the polls to keep the issues that matter to people with disabilities a priority.
Beyond politics, the right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. When more people participate in elections by voting, the outcome better represents who we are in our local and state communities, and nationwide too.
Know YOUR RIGHTS as a voter.
The Office of the NYS Attorney General provides information on your voting rights, including eligibility, registration services, federal and state protections, Voting Rights Act of 1965, language access assistance, accessibility for persons with disabilities, voter assistance election law, ADA requirements, the impact of felony convictions, and military and overseas voters. If you believe your rights as a voter have been or are being violated call the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office at (866) 390-2992 or email your complaint to
Know WHO DECIDES WHAT.
Federal elections to fill positions at the White House and Capitol are not the only important times to vote. Often, we are most directly affected by laws made by those who represent us at the state and local level. The American Foundation for the Blind has an excellent site providing “A Mini Course on State and Local Governments,” that explains how laws are made and by whom in states, counties, town and villages.
Know WHO REPRESENTS YOU.
New York State’s Board of Elections website has an interactive map that lets you enter an address to find out what State Senate, Assembly and Congressional district you reside in and who represents that district, as well as a downloadable list of representatives for each. They also provide a clickable list of county government websites where you can learn who represents you at the county and municipal level.
Know WHO IS RUNNING.
Vote411, a project of the League of Women Voters, provides details on all national, state and local elections including who is running and details on what else is on your ballot, including information on propositions and proposals. Candidates in all of these elections are identified and each is invited to submit background and platform information.
Know HOW TO REGISTER.
You can register online or download a form to fill out and mail in through the NYS Board of Elections website or in person at any NYS Department of Motor Vehicles office. To register online you will need to enter the ID Number and Document Number from your NYS Driver License, Permit or Non-Driver ID, your date of birth, current zip code, the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number and an email address.
Know WHERE TO VOTE.
The NYS Board of Elections website provides an online tool that allows voters to enter their county, name, birthdate and zip code to identify the location of their polling place.
Know WHEN TO VOTE.
Vote411, a project of the League of Women Voters, provides details on all national, state and local elections allows you to enter your address into their system and learn what elections are on your time horizon, from primaries to presidential, national to school board. It also provides information about early voting locations and times, and deadlines for applying for and casting absentee ballots.
Know HOW TO CAST YOUR BALLOT.
There are three machines used to mark and scan ballots at the polls in New York State and counties decide which type they use. This NYS Board of Elections webpage will tell you which machine is used in which county and provide instructions, even video, on how to use each machine. Be aware that you may request assistance in marking your ballot from someone who you have brought with you, or from the election inspectors at the polls.
If you are unable to go to the polls to vote, you may vote by absentee ballot, a paper ballot just like the one used at the polls that you can mark and submit by mail or in person before the close of voting in any election. You need to apply for an absentee ballot in advance. Learn about and apply for an absentee ballot on the NYS Board of Elections site at this page.
Download these resources to help spread the word:
The Disability Vote Matters Poster to display at your center.
Social Media Tiles: