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Disability rights advocates listen during a 2012 hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Disabled were a key bloc in midterm turnout surge

Voting by people with disabilities surged in the 2018 midterm election and this bloc of voters is expected to be more formidable than ever in the 2020 presidential contest, a new report says.

Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse, professors in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, based their study on an analysis of data from last November's monthly survey by the Census Bureau. It revealed:

  • Turnout among people with disabilities was 49.3 percent, an 8.5 percentage point increase from the previous midterm, in 2014.
  • An estimated 14.3 million people with disabilities voted and another 10.2 million voters live with someone with a disability.
  • The bloc of voters with a disability was larger than the 11.7 million Latinos who went to the polls and closer to the 15.2 million African Americans who cast ballots.

"Going into the 2020 elections, these results show that the disability community is likely to be very politically engaged," said Kruse.

Still, the share of disabled people who voted in 2018 was 4 points below the overall percentage of voting-age people who turned out. And the nationwide turnout surge — from a post-World War II low in 2014 to a best-in-a-century mark in 2018 — easily eclipsed the boost in participation by the disabled.

Those with disabilities who were not registered to vote in 2018 most often cited a lack of interest in politics (35.5 percent) and the limitations created by their own disabilities (25.7 percent). Those disabled citizens who were registered and still did not vote most often cited their disability (41 percent) and transportation problems (12.1 percent).

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Election security efforts should be expanded to cover the vendors who provide the equipment and other systems used to record and count votes, according to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Here a Miami-Dade County election worker checks voting machines for accuracy.

Election equipment vendors should face more security oversight, report argues

Efforts to fend off election hackers in 2020 and beyond have revolved around protecting ballot equipment and the databases of registered voters. Little attention has been focused on the vendors and their employees.

But the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice is proposing that the vendors who make election equipment and related systems be subjected to heightened oversight and vetting, much like defense contractors or others involved in national security.

"There is almost no federal regulation of the vendors that design and maintain the systems that allow us to determine who can vote, how they vote, or how their votes are counted and reported," according to a new report from the nonpartisan policy institute.

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