#Crip The Vote Twitter Chat: Disabled Voter Access and Disenfranchisement

#CripTheVote with logo featuring four blue disability symbols on a ballot box

Yesterday’s Twitter Chat on voting accessibility and disabled voter disenfranchisement was probably the most active and meaningful #CripTheVote event we’ve had so far. Big thanks and congratulations to my partners in this thing, Alice Wong (@SFdirewolf), and Gregg Beratan (@GreggBeratan). And of course thanks to all who participated.

We can’t prove it was the biggest event so far, because getting consistent stats out of Twitter is hard to do and expensive. However, here are a few fairly reliable measures of everything #CripTheVote between April 3 and April 10, most of which come from yesterday’s chat:

- 889 original tweets, 3,325 retweets, and 349 replies

- 1.1 million “maximum reach” (number of people who may have seen #CripTheVote tweets)

- 15.6 million impressions (number of potential individual tweet viewings)

- Participation from 11 countries, including 125 tweets from the UK, 53 tweets from Canada, and 2 tweets each from Brazil and Australia.

Speaking just for myself, I came away with three main ideas from the conversation:

1. Absentee ballot voting or other forms of voting from home are often good options for disabled voters, if that’s the method they would freely choose. However, it must never be allowed to become a substitute for accessible voting in neighborhood polling places.

2. The top priority is for disabled people to cast votes and have them counted. But it is also important for disabled voters to experience and be seen voting along with all of their neighbors, with and without disabilities. There is added value for the disability community when we can show up physically and cast our votes.

3. There are dozens of ways that otherwise accessible voting can go wrong and end up excluding voters with disabilities. But above all of them, caucuses just need to go. You could not design a primary voting system that more thoroughly excludes disabled people if you tried. It’s hard enough for disabled voters to get to a polling site and simply cast a simple vote. Imagine how much harder it is for so many of us to sit though hours of chaotic group discussions, (and hollering matches), under purposefully arcane rules, and in all likelihood never hear or be heard due to scores of physical, sensory, and cognitive barriers that the parties barely think about much less solve. Caucuses are accessibility nightmares.

Enough from me. Once again, Alice has put together a Storify of tweets from the chat, in case you missed the event or just want to see what it was all about. Take your time and browse this broad and varied discussion of voting accessibility, and the numerous barriers and frictions that make political participation so much harder than necessary for disabled people.