SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) –After disabled Iowans complained about accessibility issues during Iowa Caucuses in 2016, political leaders in the state promised to do better when the presidential event returned in 2020.
According to AAPD, the caucus turnout rate of people with disabilities was 6% lower than that of people without disabilities during the 2016 election. It’s a trend local officials are looking to change.
“I want my vote to count and that’s why I want to go to the caucus but I can’t promise it,” said Flansburg, Sioux City resident.
Sherry Flansburg said she is passionate about caucus day but making it to her precinct in her wheelchair is a challenge.
“Unless all the stars and planets are lined up correctly there is a good chance I won’t be able to go to the caucus. Then I don’t have a vote, then I can’t participate, and that’s very very frustrating and it angers me,” said Flansburg.
This year because of a grant the ARC of Woodbury county and the Disabilities Resource Center is partnering up to get more disabled people to caucus.
“A lot of people have not caucused because they didn’t think they could. That kinda tears at me because nobody should feel like they can’t for whatever reason,” said Dew.
Don Dew, the executive director for the Disabilities Resource Center, said at least 30% of people with disabilities don’t attend the caucus.
Many cited transportation as the reason, saying getting to their designated caucus site is a challenge.
“Things such as transportation or education about candidates and awareness about what they can do and what the process looks like. I think knowledge is power so I think this is really gonna help people feel empowered to be able to use their voice and participate in this process,” said Alex Water, a Sioux City City Council Member.
A mentor system will also be available this year to help continue to guide people with disabilities through the process.
“If you are any level of disability and you want to vote but you need assistance start talking to people,” said J.J. Stone, Sioux City resident.
The event shared how people with a wide range of disabilities can participate on Monday.
“We have to be very cognizant though of people with disabilities and we have to find a solution and we have to find it soon, especially since this election is going to be coming on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Dew.
The Disabilities Resource Center is also giving anyone a free ride to the caucus if you call them. That number is 712- 279 -6919.