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Concerns about U.S. Postal Service delays and voter intimidation from voting rights advocates. Plus, Joe Biden calls for emergency housing legislation.

WI Survey: Eligibility Questions a Voting Barrier for People with Disabilities

October 27, 2008

Madison – A new survey finds reasons for concern about voter eligibility, transportation and other barriers that are keeping people in the disability community from voting at the polls. The survey found, of 600 Wisconsinites in the disability community, a lack of transportation and uncertainty about eligibility keeps many of them from the polls.

Melissa Mulliken, with the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, says most voters assume all that is necessary to vote is being a citizen and at least 18 years of age, but people with disabilities face additional questions about their eligibility.

"For example, guardianship; if I have a guardian, am I still eligible to vote? What about provisional ballots? What if I live in a community-based residential facility? It's not as straight-forward for people with disabilities."

The survey found many people with disabilities feel they don't know enough about the issues or where the candidates stand to make an informed choice, according to Mulliken.

"Sometimes folks believe they need to have a PHD in politics in order to vote, and obviously we want to encourage people to learn about the candidates, but we also want to encourage them to trust themselves."

The answers are likely to differ based on individual situations, according to advocates, who encourage people to take some time before election day to find out about their eligibility. The disability community is voting in higher numbers than in the past, but still about 12 percent less than the general population.

Candidate information is available online for voters with disabilities at www.disabilityvote.org.

Eric Mack/Elizabeth Grattan, Public News Service - WI