Kurt Rutzen

Voting gives voice to people with disabilities

by KURT RUTZEN 

Your vote counts. I remember back in July 2009 when Al Franken was declared the winner of Minnesota’s senatorial race. Out of millions of votes cast, just 312 declared him the winner after a recount process that took seven months.

Kurt Rutzen

Kurt Rutzen, policy assistant for The Arc Minnesota.

Taking part in this activity is important for people with disabilities, and everyone. We are all the same.

Voting gives you a voice, and each vote does count. It’s important because whoever gets into office will be your voice and listen to your needs as a person.

I make sure legislators know that I am a voter. I let them know I am willing to work with them on the programs I need. Legislators and public policy officials have a tremendous impact on services and supports. By voting and being active in public policy advocacy efforts, I let them know the community of people with disabilities is watching and interested in helping.

An oldie but a goodie, click to learn more about Kurt Rutzen in the Apostrophe feature story, Man on Mission.

Voting is a constitutional right

If you are a person with a disability, you have the right to vote guaranteed by the 15th and 19th Amendments and the American with Disabilities Act. In many states even if you are under guardianship, you are still eligible to vote unless a court order revokes that right.

Historically, people with disabilities have been denied the right to vote. Gradually, the many barriers to voting have been overcome, but we still need help with specific voting issues.

Get help voting

In Minnesota, a good resource is the Secretary of State’s office. In addition to having many resources available online, they have formed a committee to address voting issues that impact persons with disabilities.

Or

If you do have voting issues, you can also contact your state legal advocacy organization (such as the Disability Rights or PAVA) that trains people with disabilities about their voting rights and available address issues and problems that might come up on election day.

Please join me and millions of other Americans who will vote on November 8th.


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