NDRN Raises Concerns About Voter Intimidation at Polls

by Andy Jones
October 24, 2016

The National Disability Rights Network and Asian Americans Advancing Justice issued a warning to states on October 13, demanding that they work to ensure that voters with disabilities and other minority groups are not harassed at the polls in the upcoming election.

“NDRN is very concerned that individuals with disabilities and other minority groups could be prevented from voting by uninformed or misinformed poll workers, or by those who wish to intimidate certain voters,” NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker said in a news release.  “We are pleased to be partnering with Asian Americans Advancing Justice...to release this fact sheet so every American is aware of their rights on Election Day.”

Some states permit so-called election observers to challenge the right to vote of other private individuals, whom they suspect are ineligible to vote. In practice, the advocates allege, that these laws allow people to engage in voter intimidation of minority groups.

People with disabilities, the advocacy groups argue, are often targeted by these individuals, on the “unfounded fear that they will need assistance at the polls by assistors who could ‘steal’ their votes.”

During the 2014 election, for example, a group of Maine voters, whom lived in a group home setting, were denied their right to vote when their municipality barred their personal care attendants from assisting them with casting their votes.

Federal law imposes a fine or potential imprisonment on any person who “intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose.”

“The right to vote is a fundamental part of our democracy and anyone with a pre-disposition to block the democratic rights of people of color or people with disabilities must be removed from the polls,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of AAJC.

You can read more information on the efforts by the NDRN to protect voting rights for people with disabilities, and you can help #CripTheVote, by watching and sharing voting videos by Rooted in Rights, a project of Disability Rights Washington.

Disability Rights Washington is the designated protection and advocacy agency in Washington and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.