CCDC is saddened but not surprised that the well-funded opposition to Initiative 300 prevailed in the municipal election yesterday. Initiative 300 was never intended to be a solution to homelessness..it was simply a measure to preserve basic human rights of those living with homelessness, an increasing number caused by out of control development and growing income equality. An increasing number of people experiencing homelessness are people with disabilities, but our support of this measure was about our commitment to social justice for all.
Some members of the opposition used scare tactics that focused on “othering” and making those experiencing homelessness seem somehow scary and different from the rest of us. Our experience is that people experiencing homelessness are no different than anyone else and that most of us are not too far from such an experience. CCDC hopes that the well-funded opposition that said “we can do better” will put some of the time and money into actually helping the situation. Some ideas to help include but are not limited to:
Improving conditions at homeless shelters and homeless services
Creating shelter space for people with pets, families, and those unable to tolerate large groups
Creating safe public facilities for storage and showers
Supporting innovative programs actually help people like the laundry truck run by Bayaud Enterprises
Working to require developers to have a percentage of housing available to very low and no-income people in every development including luxury housing
Working on a way to stabilize rents because the market is not handling it
Providing legal support for initiatives run by and for the community of people experiencing homelessness like the Tiny Village.
Doing some deep work and training on their own implicit bias and trying to understand the harm caused by the “othering” done during this campaign
Actually talking to members of Denver Homeless Out Loud and getting to know individuals who are forced to live on the streets on a personal level.
This is a sad moment for our city. CCDC wants to thank and honor the amazing members of Denver Homeless Out Loud for a job well done. Had this group not been so dramatically outspent the results may have been different.
I Voted — It was Easy!
In past years, CCDC always had a policy that people with disabilities should show up at their polls and vote in person. That way, the general public could be made aware of our presence in the important electoral process. In those days we had all sorts of issues with accessibility of polling places. Just getting to the polling place was often difficult. There were issues around accessible parking. Certainly, there were issues regarding the accessibility of the polling machines themselves, making them inaccessible to a large number of people with disabilities. As we probably all recall, many lawsuits have been filed and are still filed related to these issues.
Of course, the times, they are a-changin’. Now, it is far more common to vote by mail or drop your ballot off at a ballot box. The mail makes me nervous, so I went to my local ballot box. Of course, I took someone with me, a camera, a tape measure and other devices because I was certain that the ballot box would not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (“Standards”). Courts have ruled that compliance with the Standards equals compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don’t understand why I would have been so skeptical.
I was amazed and surprised when I approached my ballot box. First, there was a designated accessible parking space within close proximity to the box. It is clear that they marked this space off specifically for this purpose. The ballot box itself met all of the specifications for reach ranges and other accessibility requirements under the Standards.
I am not sure exactly how this system works for those who are blind or those who have limited hand function (although it does not break any secrecy or confidentiality violations if someone else drops it in the box for you), and I need to investigate that matter further, but the box itself was fantastic. It is a pleasure to be able to vote with such ease.
I apologize to those of you who have seen the ridiculous pictures of me voting that have circulated throughout many media, but here are some more.
-Kevin Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director
Your Vote! Matters
CCDC Advocates will be registering people to vote at the downtown Denver Public Library (10 W 14th Ave. Parkway) on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 from 10:00 am-noon.
We want all people with disabilities to realize their vote matters and voting is one way to make sure essential benefits which enable community living are available.
Did you know?
Colorado law requires that all voters with disabilities have the right to cast their vote privately and without assistance…
…even individuals with a guardian.
All Colorado voters now receive mail ballots. This means that inaccessible polling places are no longer an issue. However, if you prefer to cast your ballot in person, rather than vote by mail, you still have the right to do so.
There are no restrictions on the right to vote under Colorado law related to disabilities.
Colorado statute specifies that individuals confined in a mental illness institution “shall not lose the right to vote because of the confinement.”
An individual in jail serving a misdemeanor sentence has the right to register to vote and vote in any election.
Pretrial detainees are eligible to vote.
You are eligible to vote if you are on bond as long as you are not convicted of a felony.
People on probation may register to vote and cast their vote in any election.
In Colorado, you have the right to vote after you have served your sentence, including parole.
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