Able to Vote, the organization Grace Littlefield and two other staff founded in late 2020, is dedicated to helping persons with disabilities cast their ballot in every election.
“Eliminating barriers to voting is the minimum,” Littlefield, Executive Director of Able to Vote (ATV) said. “We are working to make sure people with disabilities feel welcome in the voting booth.”
And, Littlefield notes, that voting booth might be an evolving one with options like voting through a mail-in ballot – something that came into the national spotlight in the 2020 election as many Americans opted to vote this way due to COVID-19. ATV was founded in August of 2020 after its founders witnessed low turnout and representation by those with disabilities in elections.
According to their website:
There are an estimated 38.3 million eligible voters with disabilities in the United States, and only about 14.3 million of us voted in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Minnesota, one of the states where ATV programming will start ahead of the 2022 elections, saw the largest turnout gap between eligible voters with disabilities and those without in 2018—a stark 19.5% difference. (Schur & Kruse)
With the support of volunteers around the state, and partnerships with other nonprofits and government agencies, ATV hopes to bring out approximately 1,000 more people with disabilities to vote in the upcoming St. Paul mayoral race. Eventually, they want to expand to a statewide model, incorporate other states, and then go national in 2024.
Planning to Grow
ATV is in Propel’s Fiscal Sponsorship program where they are able to find support, accept grant funding and donations, and plan the growth they want to accomplish at a sustainable rate.
Littlefield got her graduate certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University – throughout her program, she often turned to Propel’s resources. When she graduated and began the work to found ATV, fiscal sponsorship felt like a natural fit for the organization.
“When the time came, I knew I had to ask and see if it would work,” Littlefield said. “I could tell I would get the support we needed to be successful both financially and strategically.”
How You Can Get Involved
In September, ATV will launch their #AbleToVote campaign through social media where they will collect stories about voting from folks with various disabilities.
“We are doing a lot of outreach to understand what people with disabilities need when it comes to voting, whether it be education, transportation, help making a plan to vote,” Littlefield said. “This campaign is one way we can center and learn from the stories people with disabilities have about voting.”
If you are a person with a disability, follow along with the hashtag, and share your story.
Additionally, ATV will be in St. Paul on September 4-5 to distribute information about voting with a disability. Throughout the month, they will also focus their efforts on assisting Rev Up (the American Association of People with Disabilities’ voter program) to register voters and Get Out the Vote. Minnesota Disability Law Center, ADA Minnesota, MN Council on Disability and many other disability organizations and activists are involved in this work across the state.
You can learn more about how to get involved and donate at Able to Vote’s website: https://www.abletovote.org/ or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/abletovote