Study: People with disabilities are a powerful voting bloc

A report by the Rutgers Program for Disability Research found that 65.7 percent of people with disabilities are registered to vote. That’s slightly less than the population without disabilities. Tuesday, a Revup New Jersey rally focused on getting those with disabilities to register to vote and show up and vote.

It comes at a time where those with disabilities are voting in higher numbers. The Rutgers report combs census data and found nationally people with disabilities voting grew by 8.5 points from 2014 to 2018. New Jersey had an even bigger percentage.

Professors Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse’s report found disability voting surpassed Latino voting in 2018 and nearly reached the same level as African American voters. Overall, the disability turnout was 4.7 percent lower than the general population but if those with disabilities voted at the same rate it would add more than 2 million votes.

The professors say a Government Accountability Office report found 60 percent of polling places have impediments to voting, adding America’s fragmented voting system makes it hard to correct polling place flaws, but officials are learning best practices from each other. Another route: lawsuits to force compliance.

They say exit polls don’t ask voters about disabilities, but if they did pollsters and politicians would have learned that in 2018 more than 24 million voters came from so-called disability households, or households of those with disabilities and without. In other words, 20 percent of midterm votes.