(Image description: A man in a wheelchair inserts his ballot into a voting box.)
A foundation of Independent Living is consumer choice – the right to choose how you want to live your life because you know what’s best for you. But choice also comes with responsibility, and making good decisions for your life.
One of the most important choices you can make that affects your life and your community is choosing to vote. When you vote, you are using your voice and choice to influence laws and policies that affect your life and independence. You may want to choose candidates who align with your values; you may want to bring your voice to policies that affect your community; you may want to reject initiatives that you don’t believe in.
November 7, 2023, will be the final day to vote in Boulder County’s coordinated election. This year, the ballot includes voting for key positions such as Mayor, City Council Representatives and Education officials. It also includes key tax propositions and other changes such as how petitions can be submitted (in person or online) and funding for open space.
Disability should never be a barrier to voting, psychologically or physically. Your vote counts, and casting your voice can influence progressive legislation that supports the rights of those with disabilities. And, Boulder County is highly progressive around making voting accessible.
In a previous article, we discussed voting rights and voting accessibility. We spoke with the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder, Molly Fitzpatrick. Molly and her group established a resource page titled “Know Your Voting Rights,” which delineates voting eligibility, addresses the challenges of language barriers and other accessibility issues, and provides an extensive Q&A section, including details on voting equipment compliant with the ADA. You can find that page here.
Following, we share links to resources for voter registration and where to cast your ballot, guides to the ballot issues and candidates, and videos of interviews between our Community Organizer, Craig Towler and many of the Mayoral and Council candidates.
Please use this piece as a resource to make sure you are registered, learn about the candidates and issues, know how to get your vote in on time, and cast your vote on or before November 7. Your voice and vote counts!
The Ballot: Issues and Candidates
There are two measures up for a vote in Colorado. They are Proposition HH (Tabor and Property Taxes), and Proposition II (Nicotine and Tobacco Taxes). The Arc of Aurora and a number of other disability organizations in Colorado have collaborated on a plain-language ballot breakdown explaining the measures on the ballot in a clear, understandable, and non-partisan way. Use the following links to download the document in both English and Spanish:
You will have the opportunity to vote on local and state candidates on the ballot. Craig talked to several Boulder Mayoral and Council candidates to discuss issues specifically related to the disability community. Below are links to the video interviews so you can learn about their views and plans for each issue, and make an informed choice when you vote.
In Boulder this year for the election for Boulder Mayor, they have for the first time implemented a Ranked Choice Voting system, where you rank each candidate from first choice to fourth choice based on who you would elect as Mayor. You can learn more about this here.
If you need a warm up, you can use an interactive practice ballot here.
The first step in voting is to make sure you are registered and know where to go or where to mail in your ballot. This page from the Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has links and info on everything you need to know about registration, tracking your ballot, sample ballots to practice with, access to the ballot information book, and more. Below we have broken down the list so you for easy access:
- Find out if you have a valid voter registration here
- Register online to vote here
- Download the 2023 State Ballot Information Book in English here, and in Spanish here. They also provide an audio version of it here. The ballot information booklet’s job is to give voters an unbiased explanation of every new law or change to the constitution that’s up for a vote. The explanations include a short summary of what the law is about, the main reasons people are for it and against it, and a quick look at a fiscal assessment.
Voting is an essential and empowering practice for the disability community, embodying the core principles of consumer choice and the Independent Living Movement. It allows individuals to exercise their right to choose representatives and policies that align with their values and priorities, ultimately shaping the direction of their communities and the nation.
Voting is a powerful tool for demanding accountability from elected officials and advocating for policies that reflect the needs and aspirations of people with disabilities. While accessibility issues and barriers should never deter individuals from voting, they can serve as a catalyst for pushing for more progressive legislation and inclusive voting practices.
The resources provided in this article demonstrate CPWD’s and Boulder County’s commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can participate in the electoral process, make informed decisions, and have their voices heard. By actively engaging in the democratic process, the disability community can drive positive change and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
If you need any accommodation or help in your voting process, please always reach out to CPWD for assistance – email [email protected].