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Arizona non-profit launches initiative to get more people with disabilities registered to vote

In 2020, voting participation among people with disabilities lagged nearly 6 points behind the rate for non-disabled people, according to research from Rutgers University. 

That’s why an Arizona non-profit is launching a new initiative to get people with disabilities registered for 2024. 

First Place Arizona offers supportive housing for adults with autism, Down Syndrome and other neurodiversities. Now it’s launching a program called Vote the Spectrum

First Place founder Denise Resnik said the goal is to register 10,000 individuals with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities (A/I/DD) and those who support them to vote.

“We want to recognize that people with autism and disabilities are valued, integrated members of our communities and we want to create more inclusive communities and we believe a big part of that is having a voice and a vote," she said.

First Place is also partnering with the Secretary of State’s office and the Maricopa County Recorder’s office to hold mock election days so people know what to expect at the voting booth.

Harry Goralnik lives at First Place and has been registered to vote for over a decade, but he says other people with autism don’t always have the information they need.

“I think it’s mostly just not knowing how to register to vote or not understanding what the importance of registering to vote is," he said. "I just hope that this initiative brings more and more people to the democratic process. Obviously, I realize this is a lofty goal, but my hope is that one day, everyone who is eligible to vote in upcoming elections."

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.