On Monday, Julie Heffernan and I announced the launch of our #TheArcVotes campaign at The Arc of Massachusetts with a short Facebook Live that talked about why we vote and how elected officials shape the services and resources that all of us, including people with disabilities, need.
Elected officials choose administrators and policies for our public schools, including special education services; and they also determine the access to adult services when students turn 22 years old – whether they receive employment, personal care attendants, transportation, housing, or other key resources.
This year, changes to both Medicaid and food assistance have been debated in Congress. For example, tomorrow (Friday, June 22), the House of Representatives (DC) will vote for the second time on a proposed bill that would cut off or reduce basic food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for roughly 2 million people across the nation. Jim Kruidenier of Stavros ILC has commented on his exposure to stories about the lack of food for many people with disabilities in our state. In 2007, Congressman Jim McGovern lived on the food stamp allowance to demonstrate its inadequacy.
Health care, education, personal care, and income assistance are all pretty significant items for one’s life – especially if you have a disability.
But it’s also our duty to vote. As Susan B. Anthony once stated, “How can the consent of the governed be given if the right to vote is denied?” Similarly, how long will our power to have consent continue if citizens don’t vote? In 2014, only 40% of those registered voted. During Presidential election years, we may hit 60% turnout. But 21% of the eligible population doesn’t even register, bringing those numbers down further.
The Pew Charitable Foundation ordered a study in 2016 to see why millions don’t vote that is worth reading. Make sure you are registered, and if not, you have until August 15 to register for our September primaries, and registration for the November election is open until October 17.
It’s our duty to vote – and your vote, along with your civic participation, does make a difference. Learn more on the official #TheArcVotes site.
Leo V. Sarkissian