US election 2020: What does healthy voting mean for people with disabilities?
Written by Ana Sandoiu on October 26, 2020
“Not everyone realizes how big this group is,” voter engagement specialist Jack Rosen told Healthline Media, referring to the 38 million people in the US with a disability who are eligible to vote in this imminent election. Healthline invited Rosen to discuss the impact of the pandemic, accessible voting, and what constitutes healthy voting for people with disabilities.
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According to the most recent data from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, more than one-fourth of the total United States electorate either has a disability or shares a household with a person with a disability.
What is more, over 38 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections.
In this context, Healthline Media invited guest speaker Jack Rosen to talk to its employees about healthy voting and what it means for people with disabilities in the United States.
What are some of the electoral issues that affect people with disabilities in the U.S.? What role has the pandemic played in realigning their priorities? And what can we do to make sure that voters with disabilities actively engage with, and are fairly treated within, the voting process?
These are some of the questions that Jack Rosen, voter engagement specialist with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), answered for Healthline during a live online talk.
If you would like to check your registration status or register to vote, we have added some useful links at the bottom of this article.
Rosen’s work increases the participation of voters with disabilities in the democratic process through non-partisan messaging.
In order to increase voter engagement on a national level, he collaborates with various civil and disability rights organizations, developing resources for these organizations. He also encourages politicians and the media to cover and discuss more of the political issues that impact people with disabilities.
“Not everyone realizes how big this group is,” said Rosen, referring to the 38 million people projected by the Rutgers study, “and part of my job is to make sure they do and start reaching out to them.”
What does ‘healthy voting’ mean for voters with disabilities?
When asked what healthy voting means for voters with disabilities, Rosen mentioned two things.
Firstly, we need to regard voting as something that can benefit a person’s health. Voting is an important way for people to feel part of their community, which is especially crucial for people with disabilities during the current pandemic.
“Many have been, unfortunately, really isolated during this pandemic, whether it’s due to their own vulnerability to COVID-19, the fact that they live in a group home or congregate setting that has restricted access to visitors, or an inability to see family and support staff as they normally would.”
But also, crucially, some of the issues at stake during this election directly affect the health of the electorate.
“There are issues on the ballot that quite literally impact the health of people with disabilities, from how this country handles things like access to healthcare, to the future of social security and Veterans Administration benefits, to countless other programs that directly impact the health of people with disabilities.”
– Jack Rosen
For instance, what happens with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of the most significant issues at the forefront of voters’ minds this year, Rosen added.
“So, healthy voting is both feeling a part of the community,” Rosen said, “and having the chance to have a say in the policies that will have a direct impact on the health of individuals with disabilities.”