Disabled caucusgoers say their phone calls aren’t being answered.
300,000 voters in Iowa have a disability.
Democratic party officials only let the public know about their new accommodation process last month.
The average temperature in February in Des Moines, Iowa is between 20°F to 31°F.
(NewsReady.com) – The Democratic Party claims to be the party of inclusiveness. The party that fights for the rights of people across the country. Caucusgoers in Iowa, however, are experiencing a different reality.
The New York Times recently reported on the difficulties people with disabilities are having with accessibility in their precincts. Meg Young, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), told the Times that in 2016 she was forced to wait an hour and a half, in a line down a hill when it was cold outside. After waiting outside, she had to participate in a 3-hour caucus.
For an able-bodied person, that might not seem awful but for a person with MS, it’s excruciating. The steep hill, cold weather, and energy exerted is the perfect cocktail to knock an MS patient out of commission for days afterward. Accessibility could have prevented it all.
Young said in order to avoid that next time, she asked the Polk County Democrats in September to allow her to walk in quickly and give her a chair. When she finally heard back from them, the date she had to preregister had already passed and nobody has gotten back to her to provide a remedy.
She is not the only person with disabilities to experience these problems. Disability Rights Iowa Executive Director Jane Hudson said Democrats are just ignoring the problem:
“Maybe they feel like they’re being inclusive, but I think they’re really ignoring a lot of underrepresented people. The disability community really exemplifies how the party says they’re going to be doing things and then don’t really do things.”
The party maintains that 2020 will not be like 2016, but advocates say it’s more of the same. It’s not just in Iowa, either.
Pew Charitable Trusts found disabled people all across the country are having problems voting. They aren’t just frustrated, they feel as though able-bodied America doesn’t want them participating in their democracy. Advocate Michelle Bishop said, “The message is: You’re not wanted here.”
As for the caucuses in Iowa, Central Iowa Center for Independent Living Executive Director Reyma McCoy McDeid says the “process excludes people and creates barriers to participation.” Democrats have not really paid attention to the needs of the disabled, and now people like Ms. Young may have to just go home without her voice being heard.
For a party that maintains it cares about all voters, this isn’t a good look.
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