In what’s believed to be the first national look at the political views of the disability community, a new poll finds that those touched by special needs are turning out to vote in high numbers and care deeply about candidate views on supports and services.
Some 72 percent of caregivers and people with disabilities polled said they voted in the 2012 presidential election. What’s more, over 60 percent indicated that they plan to cast a ballot in next year’s midterm election, according to findings released Friday.
Largely mirroring the rest of the country, 30 percent of those surveyed said they are Democrats and 23 percent identified themselves as Republicans.
Regardless of political affiliation, however, a candidate’s record of supporting services and programs for people with disabilities makes a big difference for most in this community. Of those polled, 87 percent said they would consider voting against a candidate that they otherwise support if that politician was in favor of cuts to disability services.
“Too many politicians across the political spectrum have been ignoring disability issues for too long,” said Will Swenson, political director at United Cerebral Palsy, one of more than 45 disability organizations that are part of the Youth Transitions Collaborative which commissioned the survey. “Our community votes and we are going to be paying very close attention to whether elected officials are fighting for us or not.”
For the survey, more than 1,000 members of the disability community were polled between May and June of this year. Of those who participated, 663 identified themselves as having a disability or chronic condition under criteria established by the U.S. Census and 345 were family members or caregivers of those with special needs.
A study of the 2008 presidential election that was published last year found that voter turnout among people with disabilities was 11 percent lower than that of typically developing individuals. In that report, researchers indicated that lack of transportation and accessibility issues at the polls could be at least partly to blame.