I recently read an opinion piece on politico.com (www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81268.html), ‘Disabled Voters Possess Untapped Political Power,’ by Bob Dole and Tony Coelho, both former members of Congress who have disabilities. What caught my eye about the article were the eye-popping numbers of how powerful a political force the disability community could be if we all wielded our power together and voted strictly on disability and aging issues. According to the article, 19% of the population in the United States lives with some sort of Disability. That’s 57 million Americans!
That number is only growing too. According to the article, 1 in 4 veterans returning from deployment overseas has a disability. It says every 8 seconds a member of the baby boomer generation turns 65 and it is estimated that at least 70% will need to use some type of long-term care service at some point in their lives. Add these numbers to the at least 65.7 million family caregivers and the millions of other direct-care workers, other professionals and friends who care about loved ones with disabilities and you have a voting bloc that is a force to be reckoned with and could sway any election.
But how does this relate to you? After all, we live in Montana and we have such a small number of electoral votes.
Well, there is more at stake in this election than who will be our President for the next four years. Here in Montana, on November 6, we will be electing our next Representative to the United States House of Representatives as well as electing the person who will fill one of our two Senate seats in the United States Senate for the next six years. We will also be electing our next Governor and those who will be representing our interests in the Montana Legislature during the 2013 Legislative Session starting in January. There are many more races I could list here as well but I think you get my point–this election is an important one.
And in these races, you can be rest assured, your vote absolutely does matter!
This election isn’t just about filling offices. No, this election is about which candidates will stand up for you and support your interests and protect the services and programs that you depend upon. It is about which candidates will step up and vote to protect the things you need to survive–in order for you to live your own way of life here in Montana.
So why is your vote so important? Why is the disability vote so important?
Across Montana, people with disabilities are concerned with a wide range of issues that impact our lives and the lives of loved ones. Many of these issues will be of 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. If you would like to follow the legislative priorities that Montana’s four Centers for Independent Living will be working on during the 2013 Legislative Session please visit http://www.summitilc.org/mtcil.html.
You can also subscribe to the Montana Independent Living Action Alert email listserv to receive email alerts about important issues and opportunities to contact your representatives by sending an email to:
One of the most important rights we enjoy as citizens of our state and nation is the right to vote for the people who represent us. The people who draft the laws, services, and programs that will guide us forward. This right is the foundation upon which our democratic form of government is based. Voting is a civic duty we should all feel privileged to perform.
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!