Civic Engagement Commission311Search all websites

Disability Voter Outreach Initiative

The Civic Engagement Commission (CEC) is focused on reducing barriers to the ballot box for all New York City voters, especially for populations that have been historically disenfranchised. In 2019, with the crucial support of The New York Community Trust, CEC launched efforts to advocate for increased access to voting for people with disabilities in the 2020 calendar year. This project enabled four independent living centers, along with CEC, to conduct crucial outreach to voters with disabilities in a momentous year for elections and democracy.

While all eyes were on the 2020 presidential election, organizers worked to ensure that NYC had accessible elections for 2020 and beyond through community events, poll site surveys, text and phone banks and more. Through this effort the CEC, Center for the Independence of the Disabled (CIDNY), Brooklyn Center for Independence (BCID), Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS), and Harlem Independent Living Center (HILC) registered 752 people with disabilities to vote, hosted 63 community events on the importance of voting for the disability community, launched the first ever voter guide with American Sign Language interpretation with the Campaign Finance Board, surveyed 72 poll sites for physical access and advocated for increased access to voting for people with disabilities on the state and local level. 

Furthermore, organizers launched a robust digital outreach program to get the word out to constituents about pandemic resources and voting safely. With eyes on the future, crucial election outreach continues. Advocacy groups, including those that participated in this grant, continue their work engaging people with disabilities with a focus on topics like Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and why local elections are important. To learn more about RCV and the Ballot Marking Device, check out watch this Ranked Choice Voting webinar from our partners at the Campaign Finance Board.

In June 2021, NYC had its first citywide Ranked Choice Voting Primary Election. The CEC collaborated with disability rights advocacy groups and agency partners to create accessible tools, resources and messaging around how to rank your vote, to ensure all New Yorkers were prepared to use this new system of voting. In January 2021, CEC partnered with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Campaign Finance Board, the Board of Elections and several advocacy groups on an in-depth training on how to rank your vote using the Ballot Marking Device as well as other key voter resources.

In collaboration with RankedVote, the CEC launched a multilingual, interactive online app that mimicked the NYC ballot and helped New Yorkers better understand how Ranked Choice Voting worked before heading to the polls. The ballot was translated into the top 15 languages spoken by the Low English Proficiency voter eligible population. The CEC worked with several community-based organizations to create and distribute customizable ballots in each of these languages and with MOPD to ensure the app was fully accessible, including for usage via screen reader. Additionally, we worked with partners like Disability Rights New York to provide closed captioning services at the majority of Ranked Choice Voting workshops we hosted and ensure ads, graphics, and messaging were both accessible and representative of the disability community.

For further information and disability voting resources please go to the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities' resource page.