Republicans suppress disabled voters in order to kill the ACA.
Republicans have tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) over 70 times. Republicans aim to silence disabled voters – a key opponent to killing ACA. The last time, Republicans tried to kill the ACA, disabled activists protested in the Senate Building and sixty four protestors were arrested.
“G.O.P. Bills Rattle Disabled Voters: ‘We Don’t Have a Voice Anymore’. Legislation across the country would restrict voting methods and accommodations that people with disabilities are disproportionately likely to rely on.” – NY Times
32.2 million adult Americans (13% of all adults) either have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or that they unable to see at all. – American Foundation For The Blind. Over a million of Americans with visual disabilities live below the poverty line. – National Federation of the Blind
This blog explains:
– The counties most impacted by Republican voter suppression measures targeting the visually impaired
– How voice bots help the visually disabled get voting related information verbally with just a phone call
– How the Koch Brothers funded Heritage Foundation drafts voter suppression bills for Republicans
– Republican D.E.E.T. (distance, effort, expense, time) voter repellant tactic
– Ten Republican voter suppression measures designed to make it harder for the blind to vote
Counties with the most disabled
Click anywhere on this map to see the number of people with visual disabilities in a county. A darker shade indicates a greater concentration. The map also shows the number of other types of disabilities including hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self care and independent living).
Voicebots make information accessible to the visually disabled
Voters with limited eyesight struggle to find information online. Screen readers and programs that read out aloud what is on a computer screen help, but only if the website has been designed for use by someone who has to navigate the site verbally.
A voice interface (like SIRI or ALEXA) work better for the visually impaired. How can information related to voting requirements, elected officials and polling locations be provided verbally? Voicebots. These programs interact with a caller, prompt them with questions, look for answers from a database and then speaks the answer out aloud.
DemLabs built this voicebot using the Twilio bot development platform. It prompts the user for the state they live in, looks up the contact details for the senators representing the state and provides those details verbally to the caller. The voicebot also saves the contract details of the caller. Voicebots can be easily adapted to ask a range of questions and then look up the answer from different sources.
Call (404) 999-6416 to try the voicebot
Koch funded voter suppression
This relationship map shows how the Koch Brothers’ funded Heritage Foundation prepares model voter suppression bills the Republican legislatures promptly enact.
“In late January, volunteers from the conservative Heritage Action for America met with Republican legislators in Georgia, delivering a letter containing detailed proposals for rolling back access to voting. Within days, bills to restrict voting access in Georgia began flooding the Legislature. Of the 68 bills pertaining to voting, at least 23 had similar language or were firmly rooted in the principles laid out in the Heritage group’s letter and in an extensive report it published two days later.” NY Times
“The head of Heritage Action, a top conservative group boasted that her outfit had crafted the new voter suppression law in Georgia and was doing the same with similar bills for Republican state legislators across the country. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”
The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, told the foundation’s donors at an April 22 gathering in Tucson, in a recording obtained by the watchdog group Documented and shared with Mother Jones.
Voter suppression of the disabled
Republican voter strategy is based on the premise – make it hard enough for people to vote and they will give up. There are four elements which I call D.E.E.T. for sure. Think of it as voter repellant.
Distance – Force voters to travel further to get the documents they need to register to vote and to cast their vote. Stop voting by mail, because then they can vote from home. This tactic hits the disabled especially hard as they may not be able to drive or use public transport.
Effort – Create extra tasks for voters. Require them to fill out more paperwork, get documents notarized make photocopies. This forces them to spend extra time in order to be able to vote.
Expense – Force voters to spend money on making photo copies, pay for notaries…
Time – Force voters to spend time on completing paperwork, take paid time off work to meet requirements…
Spot the Republican DEET component?
This NY Times article explained different Republican voter suppression bills targeting the disabled. Can you identify the DEET component? Answers below.
1. Bills in Wisconsin would restrict who could return voters’ ballots on their behalf; weaken accommodations for “indefinitely confined” voters, who cannot vote in person because of age, illness or disability; limit ballot drop boxes and restrict their locations, effectively reducing their accessibility to voters with disabilities;
2. Forbid municipal clerks to correct small mistakes on ballot envelopes. Breaking many of the new rules would be a felony — a characteristic of bills in several states that advocates said could discourage people from helping friends or neighbors.
3. In Georgia and Florida, some who wanted to speak at public hearings couldn’t because they were at high risk from the coronavirus. Olivia Babis, a senior public policy analyst at Disability Rights Florida, said one voter had attended a hearing but, because of a speech impediment, struggled to make her points in the allotted 60 seconds.
4. Florida’s new rules on absentee ballot applications (people must apply every election cycle instead of every two, a significant obstacle because many counties’ websites are inaccessible to people with disabilities)
5. Signature matching (partisan poll watchers can inspect ballot envelopes, including signatures). “People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by signature matching as it stands anywhere,” Ms. Babis said, noting that visual impairments, brain injuries and other disabilities can prevent people from signing their name consistently. “Now we’re throwing more people in to potentially challenge signatures, who don’t necessarily have expertise in handwriting analysis.”
6. The Georgia law replaced signature matching with a requirement that absentee voters submit the number from a state ID, which poses its own obstacles for disabled voters who don’t have a driver’s license and cannot easily get to an office to obtain an ID.
7. In Wisconsin last month, legislators modified some proposals that had alarmed disabled voters. For instance, in the initial version of one bill, voters who needed help returning their ballot would have had to get it from an immediate family member or legal guardian if they had one in the state. If a disabled voter in Milwaukee had a sibling in Ashland, 350 miles away, it would have been illegal to rely on a neighbor.
8. Another measure in Wisconsin would have required anyone under 65 who applied for indefinitely confined status to provide a doctor’s note. Disabled voters expressed concern that, beyond the difficulty of finding transportation to appointments, the measure would require doctors to attest to matters outside their scope of practice — and that insurers might refuse to cover office visits to obtain such notes, deeming them medically unnecessary.
9. But at some point, she said, it might become impossible for her to travel safely, in which case she would have to find someone she trusts to mark her absentee ballot, and then find a legally acceptable person to return it. She and other voters also expressed concern about a bill that would tighten identification requirements for “indefinitely confined” voters, who have difficulties traveling. When Wisconsin legislators enacted a photo ID requirement years ago, “they maintained this exception for indefinitely confined voters”. That is no longer the case.
10. Florida measures include limiting the use of drop boxes, adding more identification requirements for absentee ballots, requiring voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, limiting who could collect and drop off ballots, and further empowering partisan observers during the ballot-counting process.
A projected 38.3 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in the November 2020 elections, representing close to one-sixth of the total electorate.
The number of eligible voters with disabilities has increased 19.8% since 2008, compared to an increase of 12.0% among eligible voters without disabilities.
There will be 67.7 million eligible voters who either have a disability or have a household member with a disability, more than one-fourth of the total electorate.
Mobility impairment will be the most common disability in November 2020. A projected 21.3 million eligible voters will have mobility impairments, 13.1 million will have cognitive impairments, 11.6 million will have hearing impairments, and 7.0 million will have visual impairments.
The total number of eligible voters with disabilities (38.3 million) exceeds the total number of eligible voters who are Black (29.9 million) or Hispanic/Latino (31.3 million).
They are more likely to favor a greater government role in health care and creating employment opportunities
– Rutgers University
Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
American Council of the Blind of Texas
Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Milwaukee
Center for Independent Living for Western Wisconsin
Coalition of Texans With Disabilities
Rev Up Texas
Disability Rights Florida
TakeAway: Don’t let voter suppression kill the ACA. Use voicebots to make voting resources more accessible to everyone regardless of their disability.
1-Distance, 2-Expense, 3-Time, 4-Effort, 5-Effort, 6-Expense/Effort/Time/Distance, 7-Effort/Distance, 8-Effort/Expense/Time, 9-Distance, 10-Time
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