Voting Matters for People with Disabilities and Their Siblings

By Darcy Leech

For people with disabilities and their siblings...voting matters.

Voting matters. You’ve heard that. But as a sibling of an individual with disabilities, voting does matter, both for us and for our siblings. Go into the party primaries informed on candidates’ stances on disability rights!

Disability rights are not a widely broadcast platform. Even with research, it can be hard to see which candidates support disability rights. If a higher percentage of individuals in families like ours voted, that would change. Over 50 million people with some type of long lasting condition or disability live in America. According to census.gov, nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a disability. Be sure to cast your vote and represent our community.

Encourage your brother or sister with disabilities to vote too! Encourage your parents to vote. Everyone in the family who is eligible should vote so that families impacted by disability are recognized as a voting contingent worthy of attention!

One reason politicians don’t campaign on disability rights could be because so many eligible voters in a family in which someone has a disability don’t make it to the polls. Should we let our vote not be counted, instead relying on lawmakers who haven’t heard our voices and don’t share our experiences to create legislation that affects our loved ones and us? We need our voices heard – ours, our parents, and our siblings.

It doesn’t matter which party you vote for, and I’m not going to tell you to vote for any particular person, as long as you vote informed on that candidate’s stance on policies which affect your family. Families impacted by disability shouldn’t be a hidden minority and we should vote with our family values in mind. As siblings, we owe it to our brothers and sisters to research a candidate and vote knowing that candidate’s stance and history on disability rights.

My brother, Dustin, and mother, Jo Lyn, were both lost to myotonic muscular dystrophy – a disease which is currently incurable. For more on my story, visit: www.darcyleech.com.   Scientific research is advancing for muscular dystrophy, and as a voter I pay careful attention to a candidate’s stance on policies that affect medical research. This is one reason I vote.

Our families have a diverse range of needs, histories, and dreams. There is more than one candidate out there who could help us and our siblings lead freer and more fulfilling lives. Go find the voice that you want to represent you and your sibling, and then get out there and vote!

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