#CripTheVote Spotlights Disability Issues That Need Recognition In The 2016 Election

The run-up to this year’s election has brought numerous issues to the forefront of public consciousness, including LGBTQ rights, immigration, racism, Islamophobia, and women’s rights, yet Americans with disabilities have been largely ignored. Now, however, a disability campaign called#CripTheVote seeks to change that. #CriptheVote is a nonpartisan effort aimed at engaging voters, especially those with disabilities, in the political process and raising politicians’ and voters’ awareness of disability issues.

Founders Alice Wong, Gregg Beratan, and Andrew Pulang invite people to join public campaign discussions on Twitter using the #CripTheVote hashtag, and also offer an option for non-tweeters to post a message online. While they recognize that some people may find the term “crip” offensive, they state on their website that their use of the term “is a conscious act of empowerment through ‘reclaiming’ a former slur as a badge of pride.”

Although the 56.7 million people with disabilities in America make up almost a fifth of the U.S. population, less than one-third of them voted in the last election. The #CripTheVote founders believe that a major factor in this lack of engagement is a sense that disability issues are still ignored by mainstream politics. Political awareness of disability issues is on the rise — for example, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have declared their support for the Disability Integration Act, which allows people with disabilities to receive long-term care at home or in their own communities rather than in institutions — but there’s still a long way to go.

Aside from the Disability Integration Act, many other issues which place people with disabilities at particular risk, such as Social Security, education, and police brutality, remain unresolved.

In an interview with the Daily Dot, Beratan pointed out that disability issues only came up during the current election after Donald Trump was caught on camera mocking a reporter with a disability. Beratan also said he and his fellow #CripTheVote founders were “far from satisfied with what we have heard from either party” and wanted to “see more of a dialogue between the parties and the disability community.”

In the same interview, he stressed that #CripTheVote intends to highlight the concerns of “the entire disability community,” not just those of white men with disabilities. Similarly, Wong noted that the movement wants to examine how “sexism, racism, ableism, [and] homophobia/transphobia” intersect with disability issues, and to “truly listen and learn from the entire spectrum of the disability community.”

This awareness of how people can be affected by multiple kinds of discrimination, plus the open forum provided by Twitter, could mean success for #CripTheVote. Let’s hope we can look forward to an election where those with disabilities have an equal say in what happens to their country.