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Summit at SLU Focuses on Disabled Voters

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The summit was held this weekend at Saint Louis University (KWMU photo)

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The largest minority group in Missouri is also the least mobilized voting block.

The disability community was the focus of an event in St. Louis Sunday that was aimed at educating those with disabilities of their rights - and their power - as voters.

The director of the Missouri Disability Vote Project, Kelly Anthony, says it's important to increase the number of disabled voters in the state: "The main reason that people with disabilities don't vote is because organizations who represent people with disabilities aren't making the connection, or helping people with disabilities make the connection, between policy elections and issues that affect their everyday lives."

Anthony says people with disabilities represent 20% of Missouri's population (estimated 890,000 people). They have a voter turnout of 35-45% in presidential elections.

Voter Access

Advocacy groups also say most polling places are inaccessible to those voters.

Denise Lieberman, the legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, says there is a lack of information about voting rights. "Many people don't know, for example, that they have a right to have curbside voting if they're not able to get into a polling place," Lieberman said. "Many people don't that even though you're required to present identification at the polls, it doesn't necessarily have to be photo identification. It can be anything that has your name and address printed upon it.

Lieberman also told those at the summit that they have a right to receive help casting their ballot at the polling place, if they need it.

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