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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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We can and must embrace our diversity as the operating system of our nation, write the leaders of the Bridge Alliance.

Diverse people must be in every room where decisions are made

Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)

As we look to history, it has always been the mystics and scientists, innovators and outliers who saw the future most clearly and acted to push — or call — society forward, to awaken from our slumber of the way things are and envision a better future. The stories of their personal transformation inspire us to be better individually and collectively. With this inspiration, we can and must transform our nation into a more perfect union.

As co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, we are inspired and challenged by the problems facing our country. Our 100 member organizations work daily to protect the ideals of our American Dream so we can create healthy self-governance that has never fully existed before. Our members work to harness the tension of our differences as we enact our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, balancing individual and community needs.

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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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