Election season is in full swing! Here at Sachs Media Group, our team is hard at work to get all eligible voters registered and casting their ballots before upcoming deadlines. Currently, our “Access The Vote” campaign is working to increase the number of voters with disabilities participating in elections.
Disability Rights Florida is a not-for-profit corporation working to protect and advance the rights of Floridians with disabilities through advocacy and education. With Disability Rights Florida, our team has developed and launched a user-friendly website designed for persons with disabilities to get more information about the voting process. Understanding Florida law when it comes to voting rights can be overwhelming. The “AccessTheVote.org” website provides organized information for every stage of the voting process.
Another part of the campaign includes a podcast series focused on rights of individuals with disabilities, titled “You First.” You First is available for streaming on the Disability Rights Florida website and on the iTunes store. The podcast series functions as a new platform for Disability Rights Florida to reach persons with disabilities, as well as their families and friends. Some of the episodes will feature a range of educational interviews and testimonials, with the first four episodes focusing on voting rights, leading up to the election in November.
In the state of Florida, most persons with disabilities have the right to vote. Only individuals legally found by a judge on the basis of criminal history and/or mental incapacitation are ineligible to vote. This is a basic right of almost all citizens.
Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles facing voters with disabilities, which is why our team with Disability Rights Florida advocates for more accessible polling places. One study conducted in 2013 by Rutger and Syracuse reported that nearly one third of voters with disabilities encountered difficulties while voting at a polling place, compared to the 8.4% of the voting population without a disability. The Government Accountability Office conducted a study of polling places in 2000 and found that 80% of polling places were inaccessible. That number decreased to 73% in a follow-up study, but still poses a problem.
The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing there is a problem. Our team believes inclusive elections that represent every sector of our community are important. By developing effective messaging strategies and communication tools to advocate for persons with disabilities throughout the state, we can change the system for the better. This election we encourage everyone to get out and vote!