Five Things People with Disabilities Should Know About Voting

Vote 2020

Know Your Voting Rights

New Jersey’s primary elections are right around the corner, taking place on July 7th. At Easterseals New Jersey, we want voting to be as easy and accessible an experience as possible. That’s why we have put together a list of five things voters with disabilities need to know about their voting rights, how they can vote, and where to turn should they have any questions.

  1. The upcoming primary will be a vote-by-mail election. However, if you are unable to vote by mail, in-person voting will be available in at least one polling place per municipality. Please contact your local County Clerk for more information on available locations and accommodations.
  2. Voting is your right as a citizen and no one should tell you otherwise. If you are experiencing challenges voting, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). You can also request assistance in voting by filling out our 2020 Voting Pledge!
  3. Polling places MUST be accessible to disabled voters. Do not be afraid to speak up if you feel your rights are being violated. To learn more about voting rights in New Jersey, please check out the State Division of Elections Voter Rights and Accessibility webpage here.
  4. You are allowed to, but not required to have someone help you vote. For in-person voting, this can be a poll-worker or someone you bring with you. Any person may assist you in completing a vote-by-mail ballot.
  5. You have the right to vote privately and independently. If someone is violating your right to vote privately and independently, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) to report your situation and receive assistance.
Vote 2020 disability / disabled

This only a shortlist of important items, so please let us know if you have any additional questions about how to ensure you can vote in 2020. You can also check out our Voting Information Center website for more detailed information and helpful voting tools.

Happy voting!

YOU Count, so Be Counted: 2020 Census

US Census 2020

Why Should I Fill Out the Census?

Because it’s important to people with disabilities and their families!

Hands,raised,raised hands,arms,up - free image from needpix.com

Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone who lives in the country, regardless of age, nationality or ability. It is important that everyone – especially individuals and families living with a disability – respond to the 2020 Census. Information collected in the Census will inform the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds for states and communities each year for the next decade. That includes money for services that ensure people with disabilities have access to the supports they need to thrive!

Read moreYOU Count, so Be Counted: 2020 Census

It’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

A call to support DSP wage increases

Senator Stephen Sweeney (primary sponsor) and Senator Troy Singleton have put forward a bill in the New Jersey legislature that would increase direct support professional (DSP) wages in the state.

As the bill’s “statement” makes clear, DSP wages are becoming unsustainable at their current levels as the cost of living rises. See below:

 “At an average starting salary of $12 per hour, DSP wages are not competitive, with an increasing number of retailers paying $15 to $18 per hour and New Jersey’s minimum wage on a path to $15 per hour for entry-level jobs that are far less demanding.  To compound the issue, there is a growing DSP shortage that is threatening the safety and health of individuals with I/DD living in community settings.”

Read moreIt’s Time for a Direct Service Professional Wage Increase in NJ

#DisabledAndCute – How Author Keah Brown Is Taking On Negative Body Images, One Word at a Time

Taking on Negative Body-Images

When you read a piece from Keah Brown, you realize a few things. The first is that she is a tremendously talented writer. The second is that she has a unique perspective that brings to life stories and experiences that need to be shared. We were privileged enough to interview her to discuss her thoughts surrounding media, negative body-images, and disability.

Read more#DisabledAndCute – How Author Keah Brown Is Taking On Negative Body Images, One Word at a Time

My Independent Life Between a Walker and the Wheelchair

walker wheelchair

Wheelchair vs. Walker

Hi, my name is William Volkmann, I am a 38 year old guy living with Cerebral Palsy (CP). The CP affects me physically and when I was younger I used a walker to help me get around. At nine years old, I was able to walk without any assistant device, but when I turned 27 I developed a medical issue that required me to use a walker again. After a few years of using it again, I noticed it was actually better to use a combination of a walker and wheelchair. I realized that if I wanted to go do anything outdoors,

Read moreMy Independent Life Between a Walker and the Wheelchair

5 Essential Tips on How to Shut Down Offensive Labels

R-word, Labels

A War of Words: “Politically Correct” vs “Plain Speaking”

Political Correction for the Politically Incorrect Labels

When it comes to the community of persons with disabilities and special needs, labels are a hot topic. We use certain words to describe individuals or ourselves. Unfortunately, words have the power to hurt feelings and limit expectations. We’d rather those words NOT be used to label us. On the other hand,

Read more5 Essential Tips on How to Shut Down Offensive Labels

The Truth about Medicaid in New Jersey

No Medicaid Cuts

As this article is being written, the Senate Republicans are drafting a bill behind closed doors that could repeal The Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Healthcare Act. The bill, as it currently stands after being passed through the House, would convert the current Medicaid expansion into “block grants,” shifting program costs over to the states. This provision has the potential to dramatically

Read moreThe Truth about Medicaid in New Jersey

Where Does Your NJ Candidate Stand on Disability Issues?

New Jersey Governor

The New Jersey gubernatorial race is in full swing and voting will take place this November 7th. We reached out to all the current candidates (as of May  12, 2017) to find out their stances on issues that are important to people with disabilities and special needs and their families, living in New Jersey. We wanted to share these statements with you, our readers, to ensure you know each candidate’s stance on the issues facing the disability community.

With the federal government proposing sweeping changes to public policies that could have a direct impact on state services for people with disabilities and special needs, it has never been more important to elect a strong leader for New Jersey. Easterseals has advocated for and provided services to people with disabilities and their families for nearly 100 years, helping them to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. That’s why we have gathered these statements for your careful review, as they will help you make an informed decision when entering the voting booth this November.

Click on the photos of your candidate to read the statement they provided. (DISCLAIMER: This does not represent every NJ gubernatorial candidate currently running, as not all gave statements in response to our call.)

Candidates are presented in alphabetical order as not to show any preferential treatment towards any one candidate.

Bill Brennan NJ Governor Candidate
Bill Brennan (D)

Jim Johnson governor candidate
Jim Johnson (D)

Raymond Lesniak Governor NJ
Raymond Lesniak (D)

Phil Murphy Governor Candidate
Phil Murphy (D)

Steven Rogers NJ governor candidate
Steven Rogers (R)

Joseph Rudy Rullo governor candidate
Joseph Rudy Rullo (R)

Hirsh Signh NJ Governor candidate
Hirsh Singh (R)

John Wisniewski governor candidate
John Wisniewski (D)

Mark Zinna governor candidate
Mark Zinna (D)

 

A Big Win for Students With Disabilities at the Supreme Court!

Supreme Court Building IEP

Our latest blog topic comes to us from Hinkle, Fingles, Prior, & Fischer, a Jersey-based law firm that represents people with disabilities and their families in the tri-state area. They detailed a landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court that affects how Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) are deemed “appropriate.”

As IEP’s begin to be set, we want to make sure you stay up-to-date on all the important issues so you’re able to effectively advocate for your loved ones.

Read moreA Big Win for Students With Disabilities at the Supreme Court!

How Much Do You Really Know Developmental Disability?

Raising a child with Developmental disability

A Time to Learn

DD awareness monthIn honor of Developmental Disability Awareness Month, we will be exploring what exactly “developmental disability” is. How is it defined? What challenges does it pose? And why do we have the term in the first place? This is the first part of our ongoing series of blog posts that will be diving a bit deeper on individual types and classifications of disabilities. We hope these posts will serve

Read moreHow Much Do You Really Know Developmental Disability?