Disability activists push for accessibility in Iowa caucuses

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Iowa Caucus 2016Disability Rights Iowa and the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council are pushing the state’s Democratic and Republican parties to ensure voters with disabilities can participate in the first-in-the nation caucuses for the 2016 election, scheduled for February 1.

“What we wanted to do was just make sure that the caucuses, which are the pride of Iowa, are accessible to all Iowans,” Disability Rights Iowa Executive Director Jane Hudson told the Des Moines Register.

With the advocates’ assistance, the chairpersons of the parties have drafted a letter for county officials, advising them of their legal obligations and best practices for providing access to people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Iowa has published a variety of voting resources on its website, including fact sheets concerning accommodations in polling places, voter eligibility, and voting and guardianship, among other issues.

“By and large, what we’ve heard as the biggest barrier to political participation in general is information – not knowing enough about it,”  Rik Shannon, public policy manager for the Developmental Disabilities Council, told the Register. “Particularly with the caucuses, there’s this mystique that surrounds it both for people with and without disabilities.”

A Disability Rights Iowa video, titled Election Day in Iowa, can be seen here.

An extensive report on voting accessibility from the National Council on Disability, published in 2013, can be read here.

Disability Rights Iowa and Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of Rooted in Rights, are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Iowa and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.