A new study appearing in Social Science Quarterly indicates that individuals with disabilities may be largely sidelined in American politics. The study suggests that individuals with disabilities exhibit a lower turnout to the polls, displaying an overall 11% gap in the year 2008. Researchers note that access barriers at voting sites, reduced mobility, and transportation difficulties are linked to lower turnout, despite the availability of absentee ballots. 

Researchers report that the size of the disability population makes it a key voting bloc and potential swing group. This is particularly significant, as the research did not pinpoint many significant differences in party affiliation or views between people with and without disabilities, according to a recent news release.

Study authors Lisa Schur, PhD, Rutgers University, associate professor, and Meera Adya, JD, PhD, Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, director of research, note that, “Fully closing the disability gap would have led to 3.0 million more voters in 2008 and 3.2 million more in 2010, potentially affecting many races and subsequent public policies.”

The release notes that the study is based on data yielding from the 2008 and 2010 Current Population Surveys, the 2006 General Social Survey, and the 2007 Maxwell Poll on Citizenship and Inequality. The researchers report that next they will conduct a national survey encompassing individuals with and without disabilities following November’s election, targeting accessibility and measuring other components of turnout.

Source: Burton Blatt Institute