Hundreds of disabled Iowans rallied at the statehouse Tuesday to ask for greater access to government buildings and the ballot box. Juanita Brown of Des Moines was there to tell her story. She has rheumatoid arthritis and is confined to a wheelchair. Brown has found all sorts of boundaries because many government buildings are not accessible to the handicapped. She says she’s fortunate to live in an apartment which is accessible, but she says that’s the exception when it comes to Iowa housing. Michael Chalupa of the Governor’s Developmental Disabilities Council says disabled Iowans have a hard time voting because of barriers. Chalupa, who’s from Cedar Rapids, has cerebral palsy. He has a hard time filling out a paper ballot with small ovals. Disabled Americans vote at a 20 percent lower rate than the general public. An estimated 400-thousand Iowans who are voting age have some sort of disability, and Chalupa says there’s a campaign to get more disabled Iowans to vote so politicians will be more inclined to listen to their concerns.
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