Voters With Disabilities Could Alter Election Outcome, N.O.D.
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--A survey shows that voters with disabilities could make the difference in the November general election, according to the president of the National Organization on Disability.
In a June 1 press release, N.O.D.'s Alan Reich said that the 40 million Americans with disabilities who are of voting age could become an important swing constituency in the Presidential election.
"Many Americans with disabilities are attuned to the legislative and political processes because they recognize that achieving the changes that will improve their lives in policies and practices can't be left to chance," Reich said. "They will vote for candidates who incorporate their priorities as they address the needs of the nation."
Reich cited a Harris Interactive survey conducted in April which showed that 42 percent of respondents who identified themselves as having a disability said they would vote to re-elect Republican President George Bush, while 39 percent would vote for Democratic Senator John Kerry, and 14 percent would vote for Ralph Nader. This compared to the 43 percent of people without disabilities who said they would vote for President Bush and 45 percent for Senator Kerry in the same survey.
Reich added that Americans with disabilities -- which make up about one-fifth of the entire population -- are less tied to a specific party or to labels of 'liberal' or 'conservative' than other voters.
"We're reminding candidates that the American public includes the many voices of persons with disabilities, those individuals vote, and their votes matter," Reich explained. "They belong to all parties, and many vote based on issues quite distinct from their disability experience."
"But candidates who reach out to this community with solid, effective proposals, and demonstrate a comfort and familiarity with disability issues, will catch the attention of this potentially critical voting bloc."
The non-profit, nonpartisan N.O.D. has championed get-out-the-vote campaigns within the disability community and has tracked voting preferences since the 1988 general election.
According to a Harris Interactive poll conducted at the 2000 Presidential election, 56 percent of people identifying themselves as having a disability voted for Democratic Vice President Al Gore, compared to 38 percent for then Governor George Bush.
May 3, 2004: "The Disability Vote Made History in 2000. In 2004, It May Do So Again." (National Organization On Disability)