icon of person pushing herself in wheelchair with text saying blog series on voters with disabilities

Closing the Gap on Voters with Disabilities

Did you know that voter turnout is historically lower for those with a disability than those without? In 2022, 121.9 million citizens cast their vote, of which 15.8 million reported having a disability. Another 15.3 million were said to have a disability, but did not vote.

In 2018, the difference in the percentage between voters with no disability and a disability was 4.7%, and by 2022 this difference lowered to 1.5%. Even though the gap shrunk by 3.2%, a gap remained none-the-less.[1]

It’s important to also consider care givers and those affected by someone with a disability when discussing voting gaps. The percentage of in-person voters with a disability needing assistance rose from 6% to 11% in 2022. While 10.3 million individuals living with someone with a disability did not vote in the 2022 election.1

Even though voting statistics for citizens with a disability are trending in the right direction, if those with disabilities voted at the same rate as those without disabilities, we’d see approximately 2 million more voters. This remaining gap needs attention. What is being done about this disability turnout gap?

Advocacy Groups

Organizations like U.S. Vote Foundation (US Vote) and the American Association of People with Disabilities are working hard to provide the education and resources needed for those with a disability to cast a ballot. US Vote has created a state-specific, peer-reviewed, resource guide to help all citizens with a disability to easily access the information they need to vote, regardless of their situation.

These specialty guides were developed in coordination with disability experts in each state and were designed to assist everyone no matter where they fall on the disability spectrum. Some of the questions answered by the guide include:

  • What are my rights as a voter in my state?
  • What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in my state?
  • How is the state mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities in my state?
  • What types of accessible voting equipment is used in my state and how can I prepare to use it?
  • Who can I contact if I have problems when voting in my state?

The guides also contain links to expertly curated, state-specific voting resources. This wealth of information allows the voter to be proactive on their “journey to the ballot box.” Whether you’d like to vote in person at your polling place, by mail from home, or any other way offered by your state, anyone can do it and the US Vote’s Resource Guide for Voters with Disabilities will help every step of the way.

State Law changes between 2018-2022[1]

Between the 2018 and 2022 election cycles we saw several states make changes to policy in order to make voting more accessible for constituents. In states with no changes to the law, voter turnout remained stagnant. However, states that changed policy to no longer require an excuse to request an absentee ballot saw a 7-point rise in turnout for voters with disabilities. A 6-point increase was seen among this voting demographic in states that shifted to all vote-by-mail. Continuing to implement policy that eases access to a ballot will only increase the number of voters with disabilities that are empowered to cast their ballot.

John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act[2]

In February 2024, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced to the Senate with the intention to upgrade the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and close existing holes in civil disparities. The bill would restore a process known as “preclearance” which requires certain jurisdictions to obtain federal approval for changes to voting procedure determined to be nondiscriminatory before being implemented. Section 2 of the act would ensure voters of color have the chance for fair representation. It would also help to prevent changes in voting laws that could result in discrimination against voters with disabilities.

While it is easier today than ever before for those with a disability to cast a ballot, it is important to continue to review outcomes and adjust laws and resources accordingly. Until the time all voters with a disability are able to easily cast their ballot, work still remains to close this gap.


[1] Rutgers University Professors: Lisa Schur, Douglas Kruse, Mason Ameri. Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2022 Elections [Fact Sheet]. (2022)…