Voting Rights and Accessibility are Under Attack Across the U.S.
For Immediate Release: June 14, 2021
Contact: Rachita Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington D.C. – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) firmly condemns legislation that restricts the right to vote, and we are actively mobilizing the REV UP network to protect voting rights at the state level. Despite facing a significant health risk and inaccessible voting systems, disabled voters showed up to vote in 2020 through early voting, mail-in voting, and Election Day in-person voting. In a direct reaction to the record-breaking turnout of voters during the 2020 election, particularly voters of color, state legislatures across the country are trying to restrict the voting rights of Americans. These bills will limit voting access for disabled voters, voters of color, disabled voters of color, LGBTQIAPTS voters, senior voters, and more.
This wave of anti-democratic legislation has drawn the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland. We applaud Attorney General Garland’s commitment to double the number of Department of Justice staff protecting voting rights and expand efforts to protect voting rights and reduce discrimination and disinformation.
Across the country, over 380 bills have been introduced to restrict the right to vote in 48 states. Senate Bill 202 in Georgia and Senate Bill 90 in Florida have already passed and include sweeping ableist and racist restrictions on absentee voting, mobile voting, drop boxes, and more. SB 202 also bans the distribution of water and food in election lines that can be hours long, particularly at polling locations in communities of color. Civil rights and disability groups have already filed multiple lawsuits against the discriminatory SB 202 in Georgia. In Texas, Senate Bill 7 threatens access to the vote in Texas with restrictions that would limit access to voting by mail, early voting and much more. While this bill failed to pass the Texas legislature, concerns remain that a version of Senate Bill 7 will be voted on during a special legislative session.
Georgia’s Senate Bill 202, and other sweeping voting legislation restricting access to the ballot have been rightly labeled as Jim Crow 2.0. These bills across the U.S. directly impact people with disabilities, people of color, and other communities historically excluded from the political process. In 2020, even decades after disability and voting rights legislation were passed to expand voting access, people with disabilities were still twice as likely to face voting barriers as people without disabilities. These bills will only further exclude people with disabilities from the right to vote. Attempts to restrict voting rights directly oppose the priorities of AAPD and disability advocates. Increasing access to voting has long been a priority of AAPD, and throughout 2020 AAPD advocated for safe and accessible voting options for voters with disabilities during the pandemic.
In addition to advocating against discriminatory anti-voting bills at the state level, AAPD supports the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to proactively address state voter suppression efforts. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the power of the Voting Rights Act to prevent ableist and racist voting laws in states with a history of voter discrimination. In the face of a nationwide attack on voting rights, Congress must take action to introduce and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Organizers in AAPD’s REV UP network, including those in Georgia, Texas, Florida and beyond, are actively mobilizing in their communities to protect the right to vote and to advocate against bills that would restrict access to the polls. Alongside voting advocates and other civil rights organizations across the country, we oppose voting legislation that disproportionately targets and restricts voting rights for people with disabilities, people of color, and disabled people of color, LGBTQIAPTS people, and other communities. We will continue to support our REV UP organizers in protecting the right to vote within their communities. Our democracy depends on our communities having the right and the access to vote safely and independently.
To learn how you can advocate for voting rights in your state, check out our REV UP Toolkit: Protecting the Right to Vote in States.