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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Power in Numbers: A Profile of American Voters with Disabilities

While the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are nearly 57 million Americans with disabilities—about one in five Americans—their voting patterns remain largely unexamined. To better understand the political views, advocacy trends and partisan affiliation of people with disabilities and chronic conditions, the Youth Transitions Collaborative conducted the first survey of its kind to study the political impact of this large community of people with disabilities, their families and caregivers.

Called “Power in Numbers: A Profile of American Voters with Disabilities,” the survey also shines a spotlight on young people with disabilities and chronic conditions, finding evidence of an emerging generation who may become more engaged in the political process.

The Youth Transitions Collaborative is a membership group of organizations with a commitment to serving people with disabilities. The “Power in Numbers” survey is the first product of the Collaborative’s advocacy working group, which includes the American Association of People with Disabilities, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, The HSC Foundation, Institute for Educational Leadership, National Council on Independent Living and United Cerebral Palsy. Its findings offer a wealth of information about the potential political impact of this community:

  • The community considers a candidate’s record on supporting people with disabilities in their voting decisions, with 84 percent of respondents saying that having a record of supporting services and programs for people with disabilities is somewhat or very important.
  • Not only is a candidate’s record important, the community will actually vote against candidates they otherwise support if that candidate supports cuts to existing government services for people with disabilities. For individuals under the age of 30, this enthusiasm is even higher.
  • The community is politically diverse, with party affiliation tracking closely to the general population. 

The results clearly show the power and motivation of the disability community—and in particular, a readiness to act on critical issues, regardless of political affiliation. This is an important first step in understanding how Americans with disabilities vote and participate in the political process.

For the first time in recent memory, we have a clear picture of how issues drive voting decisions for people with disabilities, as well as strong affirmation that this is a powerful group of voters. But while this survey is an important look at a community that has been understudied, more research is needed, as additional data are key to continued advancement of the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities.

Read the full summary of the survey (PDF).

Source: Power in Numbers: A Profile of American Voters with Disabilities – Introduction

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