Voting and Census
Disability Rights New Jersey receives federal funding to educate people with disabilities about the importance of voting through the Protection and Advocacy for Voter Access (PAVA) program which ensures that every qualified person with a disability can vote on Election Day.
To achieve this goal, we meet with the Board of Elections to ensure that voters with disabilities have access to the political process. We ensure that polling places are accessible, we conduct voting rights presentations and outreach events to the disability community. We participate in REV UP NJ as well as collaborate with a variety of voting rights coalitions.
In addition, we coordinate with the developmental disabilities network and produce a voting resource guide “Voting, It’s Your Right” which explains the process of voting, how to educate yourself on candidates and how to cast an independent ballot. As a non-partisan agency, we do not endorse candidates, however Disability Rights New Jersey offers a free voter hotline to answer questions leading up to and on Election Day, in the event a voter has a question about voting or encounters an issue trying to vote.
The Vote for Access Series
Disability Rights New Jersey, in conjunction with other P&A organizations, created Vote for Access, a collaborative video series about what we can do to make voting more accessible for voters with disabilities. Vote for Access is a series of five short advocacy videos on the barriers that many voters with disabilities still face when trying to vote. Each episode showcases a specific issue that directly impacts voters with disabilities – everything from access to the polls to voter suppression.
Voters with disabilities matter because policies affect them. Many voters with disabilities are turned away at the polls because of the harmful idea that they can’t understand what’s happening. Imani Barbarin breaks that down in Episode 1 of Vote for Access: Attitudes.
How to vote for a candidate whose website you can’t access? With more information out there than ever before, making sure it’s accessible is important. You can’t make an informed decision as a voter if you can’t learn about the candidates or the issues. “Everyone has the right to accessible information”, Imani Barbarin tells us in Episode 2: Information.
You show up to your polling place, ready to exercise your rights and the polling place isn’t accessible. And even if you can get in, what about your ballot? The law says polling places have to be accessible, but as many at 60% aren’t. Imani talks about what needs to change to make polling places accessible.
In the fourth installment of Vote for Access, Imani tries to answer the question: What if you can’t get to the polls? Some states offer mail-in voting, but that’s not true for the whole country. In New Jersey, any registered voter can vote by mail, but it’s not always accessible to people with disabilities.
In the final episode of Vote for Access, voter suppression affects people with disabilities a little differently than other groups. You can be a part of another group that already faces forms of voter suppression. But voter suppression for people with disabilities looks like a combination of all of our previous episodes, and then some.
Disability Rights New Jersey engages in activities to encourage people with disabilities in New Jersey to participate in the Census every ten years.
In 2020, Disability Rights NJ collaborated with regional, state and local Complete Count Committees focused on ensuring individuals with disabilities were informed and included in the Census. Disability Rights NJ created informational videos, conducted training webinars, provided statewide mailing and engaged in numerous social media campaigns.