Rik Shannon, project manager for the group Iowans with Disabilities in Action, says there’s a disparity between Iowans who vote and Iowans with disabilities who vote.
“In the last presidential election in 2012, that gap between the rate at which voters with and without disabilities turned out was about 5.7%,” Shannon says. “It was even a little higher in Iowa, up to about 6.3%.” According to research from Rutgers University, had people with disabilities voted in the same numbers as able-bodied people in the last presidential race, another ten-million votes would have been cast.
This is National Disability Voter Registration Week and Shannon says he wants to make sure the voices of Iowans with disabilities will be heard at the polls in November.
“We’re really hoping to use this campaign to raise awareness of people with disabilities about the importance of engaging in the 2016 election,” Shannon says. “Getting them registered to vote is just the first step in becoming a voter.”
Iowa does offer same-day voter registration, meaning, people can register at their polling places on Election Day, but Shannon says people should sign up now instead. “It eliminates some of the hassles and some of the time that it takes to register on Election Day,” Shannon says. “You do have to jump through a couple of extra hoops. People may have some difficulty producing the proper identification or proof of residence. That’s a whole lot easier to do if you register early.”
You can register to vote at the Iowa Secretary of State’s website: sos.iowa.gov. Iowans can also register at county auditors’ offices, driver’s license stations, DHS offices and other state agencies serving people with disabilities.