Election Day is Tuesday. Do you know where the candidates stand on issues affecting people with disabilities?
Stephanie Smith Lee is the Senior Policy Advisor for the National Down Syndrome Congress. She hosted a nonpartisan webinar with the help of Think College about how the upcoming election will affect families like ours and how your vote can make a difference.
Here is a brief summary of her webinar to help you while you prepare for Tuesday.
RECOGNIZE WHAT’S ON THE LINE
Healthcare is a huge issue. Whoever is elected will be voting on issues that will have large-scale and lasting impacts. Look at where candidates stand on lifetime caps and pre-existing conditions.
Changes to Medicaid could literally change the lives or peole with disabilities. There is a wealth of information provided here: https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/rev-up-issues-guide/health-care-medicaid-and-medicare/
Consider other policies that directly impact your life. What are the candidates’ positions on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Where do the candidates lean when it comes to education and funding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?
WHAT TO ASK? WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
Look at the voting records of incumbents and candidates running for re-election, look at their voting record. Messages can get muddled on the campaign trail. Voting records offer a clear vision of where the candidates stand.
Review voting records here: https://www.govtrack.us
When there you can search by candidate and issues.
If you are concerned about health care, call the candidate’s office and ask what they support. Ask specific questions about lifetime caps and pre-existing conditions. Inquire about Medicaid and community supports for individuals with disabilities.
Employment: there is a push to change the definition of “competitive integrated employment” which could lead to more sheltered workshops. Ask you candidate if they believe that all people with disabilities should have the opportunity to work at a real job in an inclusive setting and earn competitive wages. Ask what they would do to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities.
EVERYONE ON THE BALLOT MATTERS
Attorney Generals on the ballot have an influence on health care policy. Attorney Generals in various states have filed lawsuits to preserve protections under the affordable care act. Others have joined a Texas lawsuit to do away with pre-existing conditions.
Look closely at your Governor’s race. Governors can greatly influence education policy. See where they stand on teacher pay, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and other potential changes affecting children with disabilities.
SPEND TIME REVIEWING YOUR CANDIDATES
Make sure you know who is on the ballot before you vote. Everyone matters, from those who will represent you in Washington, D.C. to those running for the school board. Look at their voting records. Review their websites. Utilize resources from other disability and civil rights organizations. Search for a recorded debate or town hall meeting online. Research who is endorsing who and what their platforms are.
Voter guides are incredibly useful. While we cannot endorse these, Smith Lee said they can be helpful in sorting through who stands where.
Federal level: https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/rev-up-issues-guide/
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Polling locations are required by law to be accessible, from entryways to voting equipment. Service animals are permitted. Workers at the polling places should be trained to help you with equipment. You are allowed to bring someone with you to help you vote as long as it is not your employer or union representative.
If any of your rights are being violated, call this hotline: 1-800-253-3931
- No matter who is elected on Tuesday, they represent YOU.
- Always be respectful on the phone, via email, and in social media. Negativity does nothing for your advocacy efforts
- Seek to educate candidates and elected officials. Informing them about how the issues affect you and your family goes a long way. Personal stories are important.