One of the most important rights we enjoy as citizens of our state and nation is the right to vote for the people who make and uphold our laws. This right is the foundation upon which our democratic form of government is based. Many people in the world do not share this right. It’s a civic duty we should all feel privileged to perform (sos.mt.gov).
With human service programs in jeopardy of being cut or reduced, the November 2nd Elections right around the corner and the 2011 Legislative Session fast approaching, this election season could prove to be a very important one.
In this edition of The Summit Independent, we will let you know how to vote, how you can vote using an absentee voting ballot, and how to get a ride to the polls if you need transportation. Also, we have provided the names and contact information for legislative candidates who are running for office in your district so you can contact them if you choose and let them know about your needs and concerns. You can also contact them to learn more about them as you prepare to become an informed voter.
Why is the disability vote so important?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 130,621 adults with disabilities in the state of Montana. However, only around 34,600 adults with disabilities who are of voting age actually voted during the 2000 Presidential Elections. That’s only a 26% voter turnout rate among Montanans with disabilities.
Across Montana, people with disabilities are concerned with a wide range of issues that impact our lives. Many of these issues will be of significant importance this upcoming legislative session and you should find out where the candidates in your district stand on the issues that are important to you so you can make the best choice possible when it comes time for you to vote. Some of the possible issues that are important to people with disabilities and may also be important to you and influence the way you vote that you may want to talk to them about include:
How they would go about ensuring Montana has a balanced budget? Do they only support cuts to the programs many people with disabilities rely on or do they support a more balanced approach by also enhancing the state’s revenue?
The Medicaid spend-down. Do they support raising the threshold so that the people who pay the spend-down can keep as much as SSI recipients get ($674) to live off of every month?
Medicaid provider rates. Do they support maintaining the current levels of reimbursement rate for providers so that providers can continue to provide services such as home health care and hire and pay caregivers a livable wage?
HCBS Medicaid waiver slots. Do they support at least maintaining the number of waiver slots that were approved through the last legislature in order to help people stay and receive services in their own homes rather than in a more costly institutional setting?
Funding for senior and disability transportation. Do they support adequately funding senior and disability transportation services to ensure that people, especially in rural communities, have access to transportation services that allows them to take care of their life needs?
And many others.
The opportunity is yours and only yours to go out and make a difference, to let your voice be heard, to ensure the future for thousands of Montanans with disabilities. So use your right to vote and let lawmakers know that the disability vote counts!