a wheelchair user casts their vote

As a result of each vote counts: making elections extra accessible

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Based on knowledge launched earlier this month, an estimated 1.95 million folks with disabilities had bother voting within the 2020 election. At the moment marks the start of Incapacity Voting Rights Week 2022, an annual effort coordinated by the American Affiliation of Individuals with Disabilities (AAPD) to ensure disabled voters in each group throughout the nation are registered, able to vote and have entry to the poll. Moreover, it’s a day to interact with candidates and group leaders on points impacting folks with disabilities and to debate higher accessibility inclusion packages.

At the moment, the Microsoft Accessibility and Democracy Ahead groups additionally have a good time the launch of the Middle for Civic Designs’ Incapacity Voting Index. This new device gives a single, centralized location that makes it straightforward to shortly search and perceive accessibility choices in all 50 states in order that extra folks with disabilities can take part within the electoral course of.

At Microsoft, this work is a direct results of listening to, and dealing carefully with, incapacity communities to grasp particular challenges and what was wanted to garner larger civil society participation. We gauged the provision and accessibility of election data in all 50 states, plus DC, throughout an equitable Microsoft World Hackathon by combing all 51 state election web sites to see what data was out there, how straightforward it was to seek out and if the web site handed a fundamental accessibility examine. What we discovered mirrored what our companions in the neighborhood have been saying – details about accessible voting was very exhausting to seek out.

We’re thrilled that the launch takes place throughout Incapacity Voting Rights Week. Whereas almost 62% of individuals with disabilities voted in 2020, up from 56% in 2016, discovering correct voting data can nonetheless be a difficult course of for these populations. At present, each state not solely has completely different guidelines and choices, trying to find voting data can differ significantly based mostly on terminology and site. Twenty-one states had data pages utilizing the time period “voters with incapacity,” 16 used “accessible voting” and 11 states had no devoted web page by any means. The Incapacity Voting Index is step one to fixing this downside.

Collectively, we plan to proceed to replace the location to increase its comprehensiveness and utility. At present, it offers in-depth data describing the out there sources for voting in every state. It additionally offers data on rights for a voter with a incapacity, vote by mail, in-person election day voting particulars, in addition to, the place relevant, descriptions of the sorts of voting machines in use (at one’s polling location) with hyperlinks to educational movies. We acknowledge that state legal guidelines affecting the 2024 basic election are nonetheless altering, and we are going to proceed to observe and replace the web site as they’re amended.

Sooner or later, we’re hopeful this initiative continues to develop and supply the idea for evaluating not simply what accessible choices can be found, however how nicely they serve their meant audiences. We additionally hope to allow quantitative and qualitative efficiency evaluations with the intention to spur innovation and extra fast adoption of efficient strategies, analogous to the Elections Efficiency Index however with a deal with accessibility.

Be a part of us in celebrating Incapacity Voting Rights Week as we proceed to boost the incapacity voice and enhance civic participation throughout the nation in 2022 and past.

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