Analysis Finds Voter Turnout Low Among Those With Special Needs
Despite increased talk of disability issues during last year’s presidential campaign, new research suggests that voter turnout still lagged among this population.
The number of people with disabilities who cast a ballot in the 2016 election was about 6 percentage points lower than among the general population.
That’s according to an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey Voting Supplement from researchers at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.
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About 56 percent of those with disabilities voted while slightly more than 62 percent of the overall population made it to the polls, the report found.
The gap in turnout between those with and without disabilities grew slightly to 6.3 points in 2016 compared to 5.7 points for the previous presidential election in 2012.
“These figures show the continued difficulties people with disabilities face in exercising the right to vote,” said Douglas Kruse, a professor at Rutgers and a co-author of the report. “Standard turnout predictors such as education and income do not fully account for the disability gap. It’s also due to many people with disabilities being socially isolated and perceiving that public officials are less responsive to their needs.”
Participation varied considerably depending on the type of disability an individual had, with the analysis finding the lowest turnout — 43.5 percent — among those with mental or cognitive impairments.
Notably, the report authors said that people with disabilities who were employed were just as likely to vote as those in the general population who had jobs.
Of those with disabilities who were registered but did not vote, about 20 percent said they did not like the candidates or the campaign issues, the report found. Others cited barriers like transportation as reasons for staying away from the polls.