My Voice, My Vote: ICI Helps Prepare Voters With Disabilities
The two major party candidates are in an exciting neck-and-neck race for the White House and the election is only weeks away. To help motivate and teach young adults with disabilities about voting, and about other ways to participate in the political process, the My Voice, My Vote project has been launched at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI). The project Web site will soon be online at http://ici.umn.edu/myvoicemyvote.
Historically, voter participation has been lower among people with disabilities than in the general population. Among the contributing factors is a lack of awareness about voter accommodations and how to use them. Additionally, in some states some individuals with disabilities are not allowed to vote under state law. My Voice, My Vote, a collaborative project of ICI, the Humphrey Institute’s Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Partnership Resources Inc., and the Minneapolis Public Schools, with support from the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office, seeks to help turn that around. It is aimed primarily at Minnesota’s young adults with disabilities, educators in high school and transition programs, and community service providers and advocates, and will provide a number of resources they can use to increase civic engagement and voting among young adults with disabilities.
“In 2008, Minnesota could set a record for voter participation!” project director Chris Bremer says. “The Secretary of State’s office has set a goal of ‘80 in 08,’ – 80% turnout for this year’s election. Minnesota is already known for its high rate of voting and more participation by people with disabilities could put us over the top. We hope lots of people will check out My Voice, My Vote and will use the site to learn about the issues and register to vote.”
In July, the project held a one-day workshop where young adults with disabilities learned what it means to be a citizen and how to exercise one’s right to vote. Jerry Smith of the Institute’s RTC Media filmed the workshop for a video that will include segments on how to use regular and adapted voting equipment and on voting methods available in Minnesota. The video will be available on the My Voice, My Vote Web site in early October and will also appear on You Tube. The project has also developed and compiled materials and resources that can be accessed from the Web site. Focused on Minnesota, the site shows how to register to vote, who can vote, ways to vote, and other ways to be heard in the political process; it also contains links to national and state Web sites on voting and civic engagement.
Chris observes, “In doing the workshop, we saw how excited young adults with disabilities are about getting involved as citizens and voting. We hope this project contributes to increased participation in November and in future elections.”
The project is funded by a $4,075 grant from the Charles and Mabel Williams Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation. For further information about My Voice, My Vote, contact Chris at email@example.com or (612) 625-7595.