Why Your Vote Matters
When we hear comments like, “How could my vote do anything?” we, the PEAL Center, have a moment of disbelief. Our Youth Director, Josie Badger, lists her reasons why democracy is not a spectator sport. If persons with disabilities want to influence policies and change public perceptions about the abilities of persons with disabilities then there must be increased participation in the community, starting with voting for governing representation.
It is important to become politically active as a person with a disability or special healthcare need. Persons with disabilities make up the largest minority in the United States. There are 35.4 million persons with disabilities who are expected to be eligible to vote this November, which is a huge, powerful number. Your vote may not seem impactful, and the saying “Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does” may seem like a far cry from reality, but it’s actually essential to our livelihood. Who and what you vote for will shape everything from who you can marry, to where and how you can live your life.
Politicians have the ability to decide whether or not a person with a disability can live in the community or is forced into care facilities; whether the ADA is upheld or if it crumbles; the type of health care persons with disabilities receive and the type of education we’re entitled to. So when you think about if your vote matters and if it’s worth it, the answer is always a resounding YES! Democratic institutions flourish when all groups of society are represented. Voting is the single best way to ensure that the disability community is represented in political processes and governance structures. With representation comes influence of policies that affect our lives and establish a foundation for inclusion in all aspects of society.
Voting is your right and responsibility. Generations of people before us fought fatally to have the right to vote. They did this because they understood the importance of the democratic process and practices. They knew that if they were able to vote in the elections they would be able to influence the world in which we all live. Elections provide an unique opportunity to increase participation and change public perception about the abilities of persons with disabilities. As a result, persons with disabilities can have a stronger political voice and be increasingly recognized as equal citizens.
The effect of your vote. When we decline to vote, we are essentially saying that we do not care about our lives or the lives of those around us. Communities that vote have political power; communities that do not vote have very little political power. The disability community is the largest minority in the United States, we have the power to influence politics and change perceptions. So come Election Day, November 8, 2016, vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.
This article was written for the PEAL Center’s Fall 2016 Newsletter. Read the full newsletter here.