The Importance of Down Ballot Elections for Disability Rights

By Lauren Appelbaum, October 11, 2016

Washington, Oct. 11 – While the presidential election has taken up much of the news cycle, attention also is shifting to who will control the Senate. As such, RespectAbility has reached out to candidates running for Senate as well as Governor in the 2016 elections with the #PwDsVote Disability Campaign Questionnaire for Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates for people with disabilities.

Twenty-three candidates for Senate, as well as nine candidates for governor, from both sides of the aisle (19 Democrats, 13 Republicans) have responded so far, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states all around the country.

A recently released Pew poll shows that voters with disabilities span the political and demographic spectrum and can determine who wins the elections.

Just as Clinton has made this a new centerpiece of her campaign, Republican Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina also has made it central to his re-election effort, highlighting his work in support of the bi-partisan Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This new law, which also was supported by Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, creates new savings accounts for individuals with disabilities in order to pay for qualified disability expenses.

Key Senate race outcomes could be changed by outreach to the disability community, including the races in Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin, where at least one candidate in the race has enacted legislation that has impacted people with disabilities.

Since disability does not discriminate, voters with disabilities are every race, age, ethnic group, religion and gender. As the presidential election has become polarized around racial and ethnic lines, disability issues can create the difference between winning and losing.

This is the first time down-ballot candidates have been asked to complete a questionnaire about disability-related issues on such a wide scale. The answers to these questionnaires are being posted on The RespectAbility Report and being used for individualized state voter guides.

Below are links to detailed answers to the questionnaire. RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report are nonpartisan and do not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.

Gubernatorial Candidates

Delaware, Colin Bonini (R,

Missouri, Chris Koster (D,

Montana, Greg Gianforte (R),

New Hampshire lost primary), Derek Dextraze (D),

Oregon Bud Pierce (R),

Utah, Mike Weinholtz (D),

Vermont, Sue Minter (D),

Vermont, Phil Scott (R),

Washington, Bill Bryant (R),

Senate Candidate

Alabama, Ron Crumpton (D),

>California, Kamala Harris (D),

California, Loretta Sanchez (D),

Florida (lost primary), Dwight Young (R),

Illinois, Mark Kirk (R),

Kansas, Patrick Wiesner (R),

Louisiana, Foster Campell (D),

Louisiana, Caroline Fayard (D),

Louisiana, Abhay Patel (R),

Maryland, Kathy Szeliga (R),

Maryland, Chris Van Hollen (D),

Missouri, Jason Kander (D),

Nevada, Joe Heck (R),

Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto (D),

New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte (R),

New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan (D),

North Carolina, Richard Burr (R),

North Carolina, Deborah Ross (D),

Oregon, Mark Callahan (R),

Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty (D),

South Dakota, Jay Williams (D),

Vermont, Patrick Leahy (D),

Wisconsin, Russ Feingold (D),

Go to Civil Rights

Go to Home Page

Go to Top of Page