This week the state legislature will vote on several bills that will make it harder for many people with disabilities and older adults to vote. The Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers (WCILC) Executive Director, Maureen Ryan, stated, “The proposed voting bills will result in additional barriers and hurdles for people with disabilities to vote, particularly those who are rarely able to leave their homes due to their disability.”

While there have been amendments attempting to improve some of the bills, WCILC believes that the process should slow down and include in-depth discussions about the unintended consequences of these bills. The state legislature should consider bills that improve the election process for everyone, including people with disabilities and older adults by addressing accessibility barriers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in Wisconsin, 22.7% of adults identify as having a disability and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS) estimates that 23.2% of Wisconsinites are age 60 and above. These bills will have an impact on many voters with disabilities, including older persons as the incidence of disability increases with age.  It is important that the state legislature considers how these election bills would adversely affect voters with disabilities.

WCILC is the not-for-profit statewide association of the eight Independent Living Centers (ILCs) covering all 72 counties in Wisconsin.  WCILC facilitates and promotes the collective work of the Wisconsin ILCs through a unified statewide voice. This collaborative effort strives to enhance the opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently and be active participants in their community.  Because of the unique federal requirement for Independent Living Centers to have at least half of their boards and at least half of their staff be persons with disabilities, we are acutely conscious of how state voting regulations can impact people with disabilities.

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