Even though the presidential candidate who had made people with disabilities a priority during her campaign did not win, there was much to be celebrated on Election Night for this community.
Last week a poll was released spotlighting voters’ support for candidates who keep a high priority on making sure children with disabilities get education and training for job and career opportunities. There are 35 million people with disabilities that are eligible to vote, making up one sixth of all voters.
RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that works to push forward opportunities for citizens with disabilities, reached out to the presidential, gubernatorial, and Senate candidates this year with a questionnaire regarding topics related to the disability community. Forty candidates filled out the survey, from both Democrat and Republican parties. The respondents came from across the country, showing the importance of rights for people with disabilities and this community in the electoral process.
On the presidential front, Hillary Clinton filled out RespectAbility’s questionnaire, while Donald Trump failed to do so. The majority of the respondents agreed on four main points as main issues, which included equal housing opportunities for people with disabilities, enacting and enforcing the ABLE Act, providing better employment and career opportunities for people with disabilities and upholding and enforcing the rights provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Candidates that responded to the survey and won their election yesterday include Attorney General Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the Senate. Rep. John Carney (D-DE) and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT) also responded to the survey and won their respective gubernatorial races.
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), who himself has a disability, won his Congressional bid. Tammy Duckworth is also living with a disability after losing her legs serving the United States in Iraq. She explained the importance of representing this community.
“Having experienced the stigma surrounding people with disabilities myself, I am devoted to ensuring that every American has access to an independent life, quality employment and social and legal equality,”she said. “A hallmark of my service in Congress has been fighting for fairness for those with disabilities and I would continue that work in the Senate.”
Time will tell how legislation and opportunities progress for people with disabilities, but Tuesday’s results show great progress.