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Vicki Pappas
Center for Planning and Policy Studies

Last modified: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Indiana Disability Poll targets voting and civic participation

Oct. 14, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As the election season moves into its final weeks, a newly released 2008 Indiana Disability Poll weighs in on the voting behaviors and political activities of Hoosiers with disabilities, their family members and advocates.

According to the poll's results, the disability community constitutes a strong, active voting bloc:

  • 90 percent of people with disabilities, their family members and advocates who responded are registered to vote.
  • Nearly 80 percent of the disability community voted in the last election and/or the May primary, including 8 out of 10 individuals with disabilities.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the respondents have a government-issued picture ID, and very few (only 8 percent) were challenged when they went to vote.
  • Polling place accessibility is still a problem. While only half of the respondents encountered barriers, those who did reported the following as the most prevalent barriers: accessible entrances weren't marked, main entrances were not accessible, parking was not accessible and paths to voting areas had obstacles.

The annual Disability Poll, which is a joint project of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University, the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities, and Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services, highlights voting behaviors and participation in civic and political activities of 367 people with disabilities, their family members and their advocates, as provided between November 2007 and July 2008. Responses came from 63 of Indiana's 92 counties.

To see a fact sheet on the Disability Poll and its results, go to:

With regard to civic participation, the disability community strongly participates in public policy and political activities -- less than 10 percent do nothing at all. The most frequent activities include voting, signing petitions, writing to government officials, sending letters to the editor and attending political and town meetings. The respondents did identify barriers to community participation, including:

  • Work schedules
  • Lack of transportation, especially for people at lower income levels
  • Physical barriers
  • Not feeling welcome to participate
  • Not knowing how to begin, especially people at lower income levels

Survey results also showed that the disability community is divided over how much they feel government officials at all levels care about disability issues --- 40 percent feel they do care and 35 percent feel they do not. Similarly, there was a 50-50 split of opinions about trusting their state or local governments to do what's right for people with disabilities. However, overwhelmingly, members of the disability community feel it is important to get involved in politics and believe that they can make their communities better places to live.

"What's especially significant about these results is the potential of the disability community to be active participants in policymaking processes," said Vicki Pappas, director of the Center for Planning and Policy Studies at the Indiana Institute. "They vote, they participate in public policy and political activities, and overwhelmingly, they believe they can have a positive impact on making their communities better places for everyone."

"Voting is fundamental to preserving our way of life as a democratic society," said Suellen Jackson-Boner, executive director of the Governor's Council. "This poll sheds light on a significant voting bloc in our population that elected officials must consider when making public policy decisions."

For copies of the full survey results or for alternative formats, contact Pappas at the Indiana Institute, or 812-855-6508. For more information about the Indiana Institute, visit For more information about the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities, visit For more information on IPAS, visit