by Marian Vessels, Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Once every four years we have the civic responsibility to cast our vote for the presidential and congressional candidates of our choice. The White House, one third of the Senate, and all members of the House of Representatives are on the ballot, along with many other local issues. Sadly, only two-thirds of us exercise our ability to cast that vote. The right to vote has been hard-won here in the U.S. and all over the world. Much blood has been shed to assure that we have the right to cast our ballot on November 6.
Justin Dart, whom many called the father of the ADA, often said, “Vote as if your life depends on it, it does!” There are many issues that affect people with disabilities. The economy and the high unemployment rate have led to increased unemployment and under-employment of those with disabilities. Healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions is being hotly debated. Providing a safety net for those who are too severely disabled to work or work full-time is one of the many social issues being discussed. These and I am sure other issues that you feel strongly about will be debated and discussed in these last few weeks of the campaign season.
There have been many initiatives to make it easier for all of us to vote. Many of us can now vote from our kitchen tables, or can participate in early on-site voting. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) has provided mandates and funding to assist in making voting sites accessible for all. Resources and materials to find out about the issues you care about are readily available on the internet.
Are you registered to vote? Do you know if your registration is current? For questions about voting in your state please visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) .
In recent elections only a few votes made the difference. If less than 1% of the vote had shifted in 11 states President Kennedy would not have won the 1960 election. A margin of 312 votes awarded Senator Franklin his seat in 2009. The Supreme Court had to decide the Bush-Gore election in 2000.
Let your voices be heard! Attend forums, and research the issues that are important to you to determine which candidates and initiatives best support your beliefs and desires. Don’t be one of the 27% who don’t vote. Voting is a right and a responsibility we all need to exercise!!
Ms. Vessels is Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. Serving in this role since 1996, among her primary areas of expertise are training and technical assistance on the ADA as it relates to employment, state and local government issues and the hospitality industry. She is in considerable demand as a speaker and trainer.