New ACC Study Reveals Texas-Sized Disability Voting Bloc

September 13, 2018

A study by the Austin Community College (ACC) Center for Public Policy and Political Studies released earlier this week confirms what advocates have claimed for years: Texans with disabilities are politically engaged and vote in extraordinary numbers.

Studies of Political Statistics: Voter Turnout Among Voters with Disabilities in Major Texas Counties in the 2014 and 2016 General Elections analyzes registration and voting record data of the 868,763 registered voters in Texas with disability license plates or parking placards. The study covers 17 of the largest counties in Texas, which provided nearly 70% of the total votes cast in the 2016 General Election. Describing voters with disabilities as a “a significant voting population,” the study suggests that Texans with disabilities may have higher rates of voter turnout than the general population.

Among the major findings of the study:

  • There are 868,763 registered voters with disability license plates or parking placards;
  • In the 2014 General Election, 48.9% of the 868,763 voted compared to 32.1%  of all voters;
  • In the 2016 General Election, 72.1% of the 868,763 voted compared to 62.5% of all voters;
  • 78% of the 868,763 voted early compared to 62.5% of all voters;
  • 78% of the 868,763 are 45+ compared to 64% of all voters.
  • Though the above data doesn’t reflect the entire registered disability population in Texas, the study states it “… will give the reader some good idea of trends among this group throughout Texas.’’

The study revealed that in the Congressional Districts contained within the 17 counties, there is a consistent pattern of as much as a 20% higher turnout in the 2016 General Election than in 2014, higher levels of early voting in 2016 than in 2014 and a higher percentage of women voters than men. Moreover, more older voters participated in the 2014 General Election than in 2016.

“868,763 is actually an understatement of the disability voting bloc. Many individuals use public transportation to get to the polls and many others with deafness, intellectual disability, mental illness, and other disabilities don’t require disability license plates or parking placards. The disability voting bloc is certainly large enough to make the difference in closely contested elections. Savvy candidates for office should take note,” said Dennis Borel, Executive Director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.

“Though there are still major barriers confronting people with disabilities when attempting to vote, what’s exciting about this study is, it suggests what remarkable gains towards inclusion could be made if these barriers were eliminated,” said Molly Broadway of Disability Rights Texas.

REV UP Texas provided the data for the study from a database created by matching the phone numbers of those with disability license plates or parking placards (obtained from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles) to an existing database of all registered voters in Texas. Dr. Jeff Smith of Opinion Analysts assisted in matching and analyzing the data to find out how many people with disability placards or plates were registered to vote.

Access the ACC study

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