Support Voting Rights for Individuals with Disabilities - Oppose H.R. 672

Jun 22, 2011


Today, the House will vote on H.R. 672 to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an agency that has served as an important resource for individuals with disabilities who wish to exercise their fundamental right to vote.  As lawmakers who strongly support full voting rights for individuals with disabilities, we want to make you aware of our strong opposition to this misguided bill.


One of the most important responsibilities we may exercise in our democracy is the right to vote, regardless of race, gender or disability.  Over the years, various federal and state laws have prohibited voter discrimination on the basis of a disability while providing standards of reasonable accommodation to ensure higher levels of voter participation within the disability community.


According to the National Disability Rights Network, the EAC has played a central role in improving the accessibility of voting for voters with disabilities.  A Government Accountability Office report from 2009 found that 72 percent of polling places surveyed on Election Day 2008 had impediments that hinder physical access or limit the opportunities for private and independent voting for people with disabilities. 


While that figure is high, it is a significant improvement over the results of a similar study done during the 2000 election, in which 84 percent of polling places had impediments.  The EAC, established following the 2000 election, has helped improve these results by acting as a national clearinghouse of information on accessible voting and providing technical assistance and guidance for election commissioners on how to make polling places, and the voting process as a whole, more accessible. 


Abolishing the EAC at this point would be a step back for people with disabilities and the goal of full accessibility to the voting process, and prevent people with disabilities from partaking of this most fundamental civil right.  We urge you to oppose H.R. 672 and protect the rights of every citizen who wishes to participate in the democratic process.