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June 22, 2021Advocacy Matters

Voting Rights Update

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

 

#AdvocacyMatters Segment

Voting Rights Update

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There is a lot of activity on voting rights this week that will have an impact on people with disabilities both in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania.

Nationally, voting rights advocates are focused on the passage of the For the People Act of 2021. The bill numbers are S. 2093 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 1 passed the House on March 3, 2021. All efforts are now focused on S. 2093 in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a debate on S. 2093 today; however, news reports indicate the legislation currently does not have enough votes to pass in the Senate.

The For the People Act expands voting access for people with disabilities but contains a provision to mandate paper ballots. Many national disability organizations have advocated for changes to the legislation to remove the barrier of paper ballots for people with disabilities. We have attached a copy of the letter on this issue signed by the national disability organizations with this #AdvocacyMatters segment for today.

In Pennsylvania, Representative Seth Grove (R-York) drafted legislation that would change voting laws in our Commonwealth. H.R. 1300 was approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday along party lines. We have a copy of the legislation on our website at www.disabilityrightspa.org.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania expressed concerns about the bill as written, even though some members state the law would increase accessibility for people with disabilities. For example, the legislation includes a Disabled Voter Bill of Rights; however, the list of rights are civil rights voters with disabilities are entitled to separately and apart from the bill and the list of rights is not an exhaustive list. Other provisions would create additional barriers for people with disabilities like voter identification and signature matching requirements. Governor Tom Wolf has said that he would veto the legislation as written.

Earlier this month, Disability Rights Pennsylvania released a detailed analysis of the accessibility issues Pennsylvanians with disabilities experienced in the 2020 General Election. We have a link to the report included with our #AdvocacyMatters for today. The report highlights ongoing voting issues for Pennsylvania’s disability community. The issues include the need to expand the use of drop boxes, amend the election code to allow for pre-canvassing as well as notice and cure procedures, include an accessible voting option for people who need to use provisional ballots, provide more clarity on the use of designated agents, provide training on voting to Long-Term Care Facilities, and more.

#AdvocacyMatters and so do voting rights for people with disabilities. We urge your listeners to stay informed and connected to information about these important developments. Advocates can watch the U.S. Senate debate on the For the People Act today on CSPAN or by visiting www.senate.gov.

Links

Disability Rights Pennsylvania 2020 Election Access Report

Pennsylvania House Bill 1300

S. 2093, For the People Act

H.R. 1, For the People Act

Brennen Center for Justice Summary of For the People Act

National Disability Rights Network – For the People Act Paper Ballot Mandate