Legislative & Policy Spotlight
DRP Testifies About Voting Issues for People with Disabilities in Advance of General Election
On September 24, 2020, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing on voting issues throughout the Commonwealth.
In 2019, the Pennsylvania passed Act 77, which was amended by Act 12 of 2020. As a result of these laws, all voters in Pennsylvania, including voters with disabilities, are permitted to vote by mail without providing a reason for their choice and without disclosing or providing information about their disabilities. In addition, these laws also give Pennsylvanians more time to register to vote in advance of election day.
DRP was asked to testify about how these voting reforms make it easier for people with disabilities to vote and about issues that continue to make it difficult for people with disabilities to vote. DRP Staff Attorney Brynne S. Madway testified: “Permitting every voter to vote by mail is a significant reform that will make it easier to vote, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. For voters with disabilities who may encounter numerous barriers to voting in addition to COVID-19, voting by mail is an option that will hopefully lead to increased voter turnout.” But, as Ms. Madway explained, “while many voters with disabilities may choose to vote by mail, others may want to vote in-person, as is their right. Those voters may, unfortunately, still encounter barriers to being able to vote.” In written testimony, Ms. Madway explained that it is important for local municipalities to ensure that polling places are accessible.
If you are a Pennsylvania voter who has questions about voting, you can contact DRP for more information about voting, including help registering to vote and information about how to make sure your polling place is accessible. You can reach us at 800-692-7443 (voice) or 877-375-7139 (TDD).