- From citizens to voters: Collecting voting data on people with disabilities in France
- The barrier to voter registration: A complex obstacle
Do people with disabilities participate less in elections than others as a result of their disability? The question is an important one, at a time when electoral sociologists are arguing that election outcomes depend primarily on unequal capacities to mobilize among different segments of the electorate. Those with the greatest resources, economically and culturally, are better able to vote, and can therefore ensure that their own interests and demands receive greater consideration. This can have a substantial influence on taxation and other areas of public policy. By contrast, high non-registration and abstention rates mean that other voter groups (such as the working classes and ethnic minorities) lose the ability to influence public policy through voting. By measuring inequality of voting opportunity, and revealing its underlying causes, we deepen our understanding of public policy, widening social inequalities, and the delegation of power in modern democracies.
People with disabilities form the “largest minority group,” and, by understanding how likely or unlikely such individuals are to vote, we can deepen our understanding of the conditions and mechanisms by which individuals are excluded from voting. Using a range of research methods and definitions of disability, a number of studies have already demonstrated a “disability gap” among American voters, showing that those with disabilities vote less often—sometimes significantly so—than those without. This gap can be as high as 21 percent…
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