The sheer number of people with disabilities makes them an important voting block, researchers say, but turnout among the group is severely lagging.

In 2008, voter participation among people with disabilities was 11 percent lower than that of typically developing individuals, according to a new study.

“Fully closing the disability gap would have led to 3 million more voters in 2008 and 3.2 million more voters in 2010, potentially affecting many races and subsequent public policies,” the report published in the journal Social Science Quarterly found.

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For the study, researchers at Rutgers University and Syracuse University examined the 2008 and 2010 Current Population Surveys, the 2006 General Social Survey and the 2007 Maxwell Poll on Citizenship and Inequality.

Despite the availability of absentee ballots, accessibility issues at the polls and transportation hurdles could account at least in part for low turnout among those with disabilities, researchers said.

The study found that people with disabilities were no more likely that their typically developing peers to align with the left or the right, but did note that in 2008 Democrats did a better job mobilizing those with disabilities.

Disability advocates are currently working to encourage wider participation in the upcoming November election. And, later this month, more than 50 advocacy organizations are sponsoring a presidential forum focused on the candidates’ views on issues important to those with disabilities.

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