by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
“People with disabilities are about as likely as those without disabilities to say they expect to vote in the national elections in 2022.” So say the results of a survey conducted in March and April 2022 to identify both the advances and remaining gaps in accessibility for voters with disabilities. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) collaborated with Rutgers University to conduct this study, working with professors from the Program for Disability Research at the university’s School of Management and Labor Relations and the Rutgers Business School. Of the 2426 survey respondents, 1186 had a disability and 1240 did not. The larger-than-average proportion of respondents with disabilities helped to ensure a small margin of error and generalizable information within the disability sample. Despite the referenced statement, the study found significant hurdles for people with disabilities wishing to access election information. For example, from 11 to 13 percent fewer people with disabilities use a computer or the internet, compared to those without disabilities. Twenty-six percent fewer people with disabilities have internet access in rural areas, and 12 percent fewer senior citizens with disabilities are connected. Further, 15 percent fewer people with disabilities have access to a printer. This last figure is particularly significant for those with vision loss, as in some states the ability to cast a mail-in ballot requires it to be printed and returned in an envelope. The results cited here merely scratch the surface of the accessibility gaps, but EAC hopes that with these findings, as well as discussions focusing on the implications of this study, improvements to accessibility of election information will be made at the local, state, and national levels. The EAC website article summarizing the results of the “Disability, the Voting Process, and the Digital Divide” is available here, including links to the full report in PDF and Word formats.