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Las personas con discapacidad (PWD por sus siglas en Inglés) somos votantes importantes. Nuestros votos ayudan a decidir asuntos vitales como la “Ley de los Americanos con Discapacidades” (Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA), atención médica, incluyendo Medicaid, para mencionar algunas cosas. En las elecciones del 2020 las PWD tendremos que elegir entre candidatos para Presidente y decidir sobre temas como por ejemplo asegurar que Colorado tenga suficientes fondos para programas de servicio comunitario. Las personas con discapacidades deberíamos tratar de responder todas las preguntas en la boleta. Esperamos que la presente guía ayude a las personas con discapacidades, a planear cómo van a votar y a devolver sus boletas. Si tiene más preguntas acerca de las votaciones visite la página “Just Vote Colorado, Preguntas Frecuentes” ó llame al 1-866-687-8683. Just Vote Colorado (Simplemente Vote Colorado) no es partidista, y ofrece información completa para los votantes de Colorado. En Español: 1-888-839-8682.
Esta guía está escrita en lenguaje simple, pero para quienes quieran información más detallada, contiene enlaces que les permiten encontrarla. La guía cubre:
Las Personas con Discapacidades Deberían Votar
Las personas con discapacidades deseamos ser incluidas. Parte de esta inclusión es hacer que nuestras voces sean escuchadas por medio del voto.
Votar es un derecho importante para todo americano mayor de 18 años, especialmente para las personas con discapacidades, sus familias, amigos y aquellos que ganan dinero en la industria de la discapacidad. Cuando suficientes personas con un interés común, como la discapacidad, votan, a esto se le llama un bloque de votos. Personas con discapacidades, sus familias, amigos y aquellos que sirven a las personas con discapacidades, podrían reunirse para formar un bloque de votos.
Cuando la esta comunidad vota como un bloque:
– Le dice a los políticos que nuestros asuntos como la Ley de los Americanos con Discapacidades (ADA) son importantes.
– Le dice a nuestras comunidades que no somos invisibles y que necesitamos fondos para nuestros servicios, para vivir independientemente, trabajar y obtener educación.
– Le dice al Presidente, al Senado que nombra jueces a la Corte Suprema y a las cortes federales que las personas con discapacidades necesitamos justicia.
– Las propuestas de la boleta electoral le dicen a nuestro estado, condados y pueblos que nosotros somos ciudadanos importantes que merecemos que nuestras voces sean escuchadas.
Derecho al Voto de las Personas con Discapacidades
En Colorado las personas con discapacidades se pueden registrar para votar:
En Colorado las personas con discapacidad pueden votar:
Cuando las personas con discapacidad van a votar:
Las elecciones en Colorado son ACCESIBLES, CONFIABLES Y SEGURAS, sin embargo, si tiene problemas para votar, si alguien trata de presionarlo acerca de cómo votar ó usted observa que otra persona con discapacidad está siendo presionada acerca del voto, llame a “Disability Law Colorado” al 303-722-0300, ó gratuitamente al 1-800-238-1376, Disability Law Colorado puede ayudar, porque tiene personal especializado en derechos de voto para personas discapacitadas. Si su discapacidad es auditiva, puede hacer una video llamada al 711.
Nuestro Secretario de Estado tiene también esta información sobre los derechos de voto para personas con discapacidad.
Ayudando a Votar a Personas con Discapacidades.
Esta guía podría ser útil y estén leyéndola a quienes ayuden a emitir su voto a personas con discapacidades ya sean familiares, personal de servicio ó un juez de elecciones. Hay muchas maneras aceptables de ayudar a una persona con discapacidades a emitir su voto:
Votos y Boletas
Si una persona con discapacidad se registró para votar antes del 26 de octubre, la oficina del condado le enviará la boleta por correo a su casa. Si la persona se registró después del 26 de octubre, será muy tarde para recibir la boleta por correo y tendrá que votar en un centro de votación en su condado.
Todas las personas recibirán las boletas por correo del 10 al 15 de octubre, pues son enviadas el 9 de octubre.
Las personas con discapacidades no tienen que llenar toda la boleta para firmarla y devolverla, Puede devolver la boleta de 2 formas:
Las personas con discapacidades deben saber que no pueden contagiarse de COVID-19 por tocar la caja de depositar la boleta (Aunque la precaución de lavarse las manos siempre que se vuelve a la casa es necesaria). También es seguro ir a un centro de votación usando mascarilla y manteniendo 6 pies de distancia de los demás.
Presidente: Los Estados Unidos estará eligiendo presidente este año 2020. Todos los votantes deberán elegir un candidato presidencial. El presidente es muy importante para las personas con discapacidades porque:
El candidato Demócrata es Joe Biden
El candidato Republicano es Donald Trump
Hay otros candidatos de otros partidos, pero no tienen posibilidad de ganar, puede ver a estos candidatos en sus páginas de internet cuando reciba su boleta.
Senado: Colorado va a elegir un Senador para Estados Unidos este año. Los electores tendrán que elegir a un Senador.
Los senadores son importantes para las personas con discapacidades, porque crean y aprueban leyes importantes para nosotros como leyes acerca de los derechos para las personas con discapacidades, y de fondos para Medicaid.
El candidato Republicano es Cory Gardner
El candidato Demócrata es John Hickenlooper
Hay otros candidatos de otros partidos, pero no tienen posibilidades de ganar, Puede ver estos candidatos en sus páginas de internet, cuando reciba su boleta.
Casa de Representantes: Elegimos representantes a la Casa de Representantes de Los Estados Unidos cada dos años. Los representantes son importantes para las personas con discapacidades porque ellos pueden crear leyes y votar a favor de temas como asegurar que las personas con discapacidades puedan vivir en la comunidad. Su boleta incluye un candidato a la Casa de Representantes. Su representante depende del lugar donde usted vive. Puede averiguar cuál es el distrito de congreso en que usted vive, visitando el sitio web de la Casa de Representantes (U.S. House House of Representatives), allí escribe su dirección. Aquí encontrará una lista de representantes y la página de cada uno.
Legisladores del Estado: Colorado elegirá legisladores de estado este año. Los legisladores del estado son importantes para las personas con discapacidades porque ayudan a decidir las leyes de Colorado y a financiar los servicios que son importantes para nosotros. Todos tendremos la oportunidad de votar por un representante del estado. Las personas con discapacidades también podrían tener que elegir un legislador dependiendo del lugar donde viven. Puede encontrar en qué distrito de la casa de representantes y del senado usted vive, en el sitio web oficial de la Asamblea de Colorado “Encontrar a mi Legislador,” (Colorado General Assembly’s, find my legislator) allí escribe su dirección.
Jueces: En Colorado se puede votar para mantener a los jueces ó cambiarlos, los jueces no hacen campañas como otros candidatos. Si quiere saber cómo ha sido calificado un juez, puede revisar el “Folleto de Información de boleta estatal 2020”. (Este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés.)
Propuestas en la Boleta.
Las propuestas que aparecen en la boleta de Colorado, son una manera de que la gente de Colorado pueda cambiar leyes, ó elaborar nuevas. Puede encontrar más información sobre estas propuestas, en el “Folleto de Información de boleta estatal 2020” (Este documento solo está disponible en Inglés). CCDC toma posición en las propuestas que afectan directamente a la comunidad de personas con discapacidades.
CCDC apoya las siguientes propuestas. Si usted está de acuerdo, entonces vote sí en las siguientes propuestas que aparecen en la boleta:
Enmienda B: Derogar la Enmienda Gallager. Sí. Al votar “sí” en esta propuesta podrían subir los impuestos a la propiedad, pero Colorado necesita este dinero para mantener los servicios a la comunidad y otros programas importantes para las personas con discapacidades. Si esta propuesta no gana, podríamos ver recortes en los servicios.
Propuesta 118: permiso de ausencia laboral por asuntos familiares y/o médicos. Sí. Por esta propuesta se creará un programa dirigido por el estado de Colorado, que proporcionará hasta 12 semanas de permiso pagado a personas de una familia que deban cuidar a otro miembro de la familia que esté enfermo o haya tenido un bebé. Este dinero será pagado por los empleadores. Este asunto concierne a las PWD, porque permitirá a las personas con problemas relacionados con la discapacidad, tomar tiempo libre del trabajo para ayudar en el problema.
CCDC se opone a las siguientes propuestas, si usted está de acuerdo, entonces vote NO en las siguientes propuestas:
Iniciativa 76: “Calificación de Ciudadanía para los Electores” (Qualification of Citizenship for Electors, este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés). NO. Aunque no es un asunto específico concerniente a la comunidad de personas con discapacidades, CCDC se opone a toda medida que impida votar a la gente. Esto provocaría que las personas de 17 años, que cumplan 18 antes de las elecciones, no puedan votar en las elecciones primarias. El estado ya cuenta con un sistema seguro que garantiza que únicamente las personas que cumplan los requisitos legales puedan votar.
Propuesta 116: “Reducción de la Tasa del Impuesto Estatal Sobre la Renta” (State Income Tax Reduction, este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés). NO. CCDC se opone a esta propuesta porque podría reducir los fondos de impuestos que se usan para apoyar programas para las personas con discapacidades en Colorado. Para información más detallada (solo disponible en Inglés), visite “Fair Tax Colorado” (Impuestos Justos para Colorado).
Propuesta 117: “Requisito de Aprobación por los Electores para Ciertos Tipos de Empresas Estatales” (Voter Approval for Fee-Based Enterprise, este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés). NO. Nos oponemos a esta medida porque podría reducir los fondos de impuestos que se usan para apoyar programas para las personas con discapacidades en Colorado. Para información más detallada haga click aqui
CCDD no se opone ni apoya algunos asuntos en la boleta, les brindamos la siguiente información para ayudar a entender los temas en los que debemos votar:
Propuesta 115: “Prohibición del Aborto Después de las 22 Semanas” (Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks, este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés)
CCDC no apoya ni se opone a la propuesta 115 porque la comunidad de personas con discapacidades tiene opiniones muy diversas sobre este asunto. Esta propuesta limitaría el derecho a realizar un aborto después de 22 semanas de embarazo.
Si usted vota “SÍ” a esta propuesta, no se le permitiría a las mujeres hacerse un aborto después de 22 semanas de embarazo.
Se usted vota “NO”, nada cambiaría en este tema.
Propuesta EE: “Impuesto a los Productos Derivados de la Nicotina” (Tax on Nicotine Products, este sitio web solo está disponible en Inglés)
CCDC no apoya ni se opone a la propuesta EE: Ésta incrementa los impuestos sobre el tabaco y crea un nuevo impuesto sobre la nicotina (cigarrillos electrónicos y vaporizadores). El dinero de estos impuestos sería usado para programas preescolares y algunas iniciativas en el campo de la salud, incluyendo educación anti-vaporizadores.
Si usted vota “SÍ” a esta propuesta, los productos de tabaco, como los cigarrillos y vaporizadores, costarán más por el impuesto adicional. Los fondos serían utilizados para apoyar a personas que deseen dejar de fumar cigarros de tabaco ú otros productos derivados y para proveer educación en las escuelas para enseñarles a los niños por qué no deben fumar ni utilizar otros productos derivados del tabaco.
Si usted vota “NO” a esta propuesta, nada cambiará en el precio del tabaco y otros productos similares.
Si desea información más detallada, haga click aquí.
Hay otras iniciativas de ley en la boleta, que no se relacionan con la discapacidad, éstas son:
Hay otras iniciativas en la boleta que no son temas relacionados con asuntos de discapacidad.
También hay otras preguntas importantes, sin embargo como nosotros somos una organización que opera a nivel estatal, no identificamos esas preguntas en esta guía, pero en algunas de ellas tenemos una postura, por favor contacte a nuestro Defensor Profesional bilingüe José Torres Vega, si tiene dudas en asuntos locales.
Las personas con discapacidades, nuestras familias, amigos y aliados somos votantes importantes. Nuestros votos ayudan a decidir cosas fundamentales como el futuro de la “Ley de los Americanos con Discapacidades” (Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA), atención médica incluyendo Medicaid, para mencionar algunos. En la elección del 2020, las personas con discapacidades votaremos por candidatos a Presidente, y decidiremos en cosas como que Colorado tenga fondos para financiar programas de servicio a la comunidad. Debemos tratar de responder todas las preguntas en la boleta. Esperamos que esta guía ayude a las personas con discapacidades a hacer un plan sobre cómo van a votar y regresar la boleta. Si tiene más preguntas, por favor visite el sitio web “Just vote Colorado”, ó llame a la línea 1-800-238-1376. Si su discapacidad es auditiva, puede hacer una video llamada al 711.
Candidatos a la Casa de Representantes de Estados Unidos en Colorado.
Distrito Congresional Uno:
Distrito Congresional Dos:
Distrito Congresional Tres:
Distrito Congresional Cuatro:
Distrito Congresional Cinco:
Distrito Congresional Seis:
Distrito Congresional Siete:
CCDC Se Opone
Enmienda 76: Calificación de Ciudadanía para los Electores
Declaración de la Campaña para una Verdadera Protección de las Elecciones:
¿Qué hace la enmienda 76? Especifica que *sólo los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos que hayan cumplido la edad de 18 años*, en vez de *cada ciudadano de Estados Unidos que haya cumplido 18* es elector por derecho para votar en las elecciones de Colorado. Aunque cambiar una palabra en nuestra constitución puede parecer inofensivo, esta iniciativa, propuesta y financiada por intereses externos a Colorado, significa un paso atrás en la accesibilidad a los electores y abre una puerta para la supresión de los votantes. El estado ya cuenta con un sistema seguro y confiable de elecciones, que garantiza que únicamente quienes cumplan los requisitos legales puedan votar. En última instancia la medida busca 1) solucionar un problema que no existe, 2) Podría crear confusión entre los votantes acerca de las elecciones locales y estatales y 3) Podría desanimar y privar a los electores de sus derechos civiles. Esta propuesta no tiene impacto inmediato en los requisitos para los no-ciudadanos, pero le quitaría la posibilidad a las personas de 17 años de participar en las elecciones primarias, si cumplen 18 años antes de las elecciones generales. Vote “NO” a la enmienda 76.
Propuesta 117: Aprobación de los Votantes para Nuevas Empresas Estatales
Análisis hecho por El Colorado Fiscal Institute (Instituto Fiscal de Colorado)
El Problema con la Propuesta 117
La propuesta 117 requeriría del voto para la creación de nuevos fondos para empresas que tengan ingresos mayores a $100 millones durante los primeros 5 años fiscales. Esto constituye un asalto a la capacidad de Colorado de brindar servicios fundamentales a sus residentes.
¿Qué es un fondo para Empresa?
Los fondos para empresas fueron creados, como parte de la Declaración de Derechos de los Contribuyentes (TABOR, por sus siglas en Inglés), en 1992. Se definen por algunos aspectos específicos.
Un aspecto importante de los fondos de empresa es el uso de pagos en vez de impuestos. Los impuestos se usan para la financiación general, lo cual queda a la discreción de los legisladores. Los pagos son el costo que paga un individuo a cambio del bien ó servicio que recibe.
La propuesta 117 no se refiere a los pagos, sino a los fondos de empresa. Los fondos de empresa no están sujetos al ingreso máximo arbitrario de recaudación puesto por nuestro estado. Forzar los fondos de empresa a sujetarse al ingreso máximo de recaudación, desplazaría otras prioridades importantes como educación, salud y otros. Por ejemplo, la empresa que abarca las matriculas estudiantiles es de $11.5 mil millones, básicamente la misma cantidad que todo el Fondo General (General Fund). Si las matriculas estuvieran sujetas al ingreso máximo de recaudación, no tendríamos dinero para nada más en Colorado.
Votar NO a la propuesta 117 es bueno para Colorado.
La propuesta 117 es una solución en busca de un problema. Sin un sistema justo de impuestos, los fondos de empresa son una parte fundamental para dar servicios a los Coloradenses.
CCDC No Toma Posición
Propuesta 115: Prohibición del Aborto Después de las 22 Semanas
Sí a la 115, Declaración de DueDateTooLate.com
La propuesta 115, protege la vida humana cuando ya el bebé puede sobrevivir fuera del útero, chuparse el dedo, responder a la voz y al toque de su madre y sentir un dolor agudísimo durante el procedimiento del aborto. La propuesta 115 plantea una restricción razonable al aborto después de las 22 semanas, aunque sí da a la mujer embarazada varios meses para tomar una decisión acerca de su embarazo. Los abortos en un período avanzado son extremos. Colorado está casi aislado en Estados Unidos y el resto del mundo al permitir abortos en períodos avanzados del embarazo, sin restricciones. Únicamente otros 6 estados en Estados Unidos y otros 4 países (de 198) en el mundo, permiten abortos en períodos avanzados sin restricciones. La idea de matar violentamente a un bebé completamente vivo y plenamente humano, en la última parte de gestación en Colorado, aún sea por razones de discapacidad, y que no le sean dados los mismos derechos y dignidad que los demás bebés tienen, es simplemente errónea, cruel é inhumana. Los coloradenses de todos los bloques (Demócratas, Republicanos, Independientes y No Afiliados) están de acuerdo en la restricción de las 22 semanas. La propuesta prevé excepciones por embarazos ectópicos, pérdidas y cuando es necesario para salvar la vida de la madre. Bajo la propuesta 115, una mujer no será penalizada ni criminalizada por buscar un aborto. El objetivo de la propuesta 115 es proteger a las mujeres y sus bebés, darles mejores opciones y ayudarlos en circunstancias difíciles. Demos a cada uno de nuestros preciosos bebés una oportunidad de vivir y alcanzar el máximo de su potencial.
No en la 115, Declaración de No On 115
Cada embararzo es único y las personas embarazadas son expertas en sus propias vidas. Como todas las demás decisiones de salud, las decisiones acerca del embarazo deben ser hechas por la persona, con apoyo de su familia y en consulta con su médico, sin interferencia política. La propuesta 115 es una eliminación del aborto en etapas avanzadas, hecha *talla única*, sin excepciones para los riesgos de salud de la mujer. La propuesta prohíbe a las personas de hacer sus propias decisiones médicas, Esta propuesta intencionalmente confusa ha sido presentada y apoyada por los mismos políticos y grupos que han tratado-y fallado- de eliminar el aborto en Colorado más de 10 veces en la última década. La propuesta 115 impone barreras adicionales al acceso a la salud que afecta desproporcionadamente a la comunidad de personas discapacitadas, la comunidad LGBTQ+, las comunidades de color y la gente joven. Debemos enfocarnos en aprobar leyes que apoyen la dignidad y la autonomía reproductiva de toda la gente, incluyendo gente con discapacidades, sin anteponer la política a las decisiones personales importantes en asuntos de salud. La propuesta 115 es errónea para Colorado, por favor vote NO en la propuesta 115.
Para mayor información para involucrarse, visite *voteno115.com*
Propuesta EE: Impuesto a los Productos Derivados de la Nicotina
Pro: Escrito por la Dra. Kimberly Jackson miembro de la Junta Directiva de CCDC
Aunque éste no es un asunto directamente de discapacidades, los efectos a largo plazo de fumar y fumar vapor, conducen ciertamente a un incremento en la(s) discapacidad(es). Este asunto puede afectar desproporcionadamente a personas con ciertas discapacidades, como enfermedades mentales (lo que está ligado a mayores tasas de uso de tabaco) y al mismo tiempo sabemos que la enfermedad mental puede llevar a mayores tasas de adicción, incluyendo al tabaco. El uso contínuo del tabaco disminuye la posibilidad de que el tratamiento para otras adicciones sea efectivo, y por lo tanto, puede incrementar la prevalencia de otras adicciones. El uso del tabaco tiene un costo para la sociedad porque incrementa la tasa general de muchas enfermedades. Tampoco hay conocimiento de algún beneficio médico del uso del tabaco para la sociedad y no tiene ningún beneficio medicinal.
Contra: Escrito por David Henninger, miembro de la Junta Directiva de CCDC
Estoy en contra del incremento al impuesto sobre los productos de nicotina porque, aunque podría provocar que algunos fumadores dejen de fumar debido al gasto, se trata de una adicción, la población más afectada es la de personas con bajos ingresos y esto crea recaudación a costa de los pobres.
CCDC quiere agradecer a Arc of Aurora y a Think+Change, por su ayuda con el lenguaje sencillo. A Northwestern Colorado Center for Independence por la traducción al lenguaje de señas y a Rosario Vega por la traducción al Español.
CCDC agradece al comité de guía de la boleta.
People with Disabilities (PWD) are important voters. Our votes help decide vital things like the future of the Americans with Disabilities Act and healthcare, including Medicaid—to name just a few things. In the 2020 election, PWD will be asked to vote on candidates like the President and to decide issues like making sure Colorado has enough money to fund programs like community services. PWD should try to answer all of the questions on their ballot. We hope this guide will help PWD make a plan on how they are going to vote and return their ballot. If you have more questions about voting, visit the Just Vote Colorado website or call their hotline at 1-866-687-8683. Just Vote Colorado is a non-partisan, comprehensive voting resource for all Colorado voters.
This guide is written in plain language, but for the few that want a lot more detail there are links that provide it. This guide covers:
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES (PWD) SHOULD VOTE!
PWD want to be fully included. Part of how PWD are included is to make their voices heard through voting.
Voting is an important right for every American over the age of 18, and especially for people with disabilities, their families, their friends, and those who make money in the disability industry. When enough people with a specific interest, like disability, vote, it is called a voting bloc. PWD and their family, friends, and those who make money in the disability industry could join together to become a voting bloc.
When the disability community votes as a voting bloc:
PWD VOTING RIGHTS
In Colorado, PWD can register to vote:
In Colorado, people with disabilities can vote:
When people with disabilities vote, they:
Colorado Elections are ACCESSIBLE, SAFE, AND SECURE. However, if you have trouble voting, if someone tries to pressure you about how to vote, or if you see someone pressuring someone else with a disability about how they want to vote, call Disability Law Colorado at 303-722-0300 or toll-free at 1-800-288-1376. Disability Law Colorado can help because they have people trained in disability voting rights. For Relay call 711.
Our Secretary of State has this information answering frequently asked questions about voting rights for people with disabilities.
HELPING PWD VOTE
Some people reading this guide might be helpers like a family member, staff person, or even an election judge. There are many acceptable ways to help a person with a disability vote.
VOTING AND BALLOTS
If a PWD registered to vote before October 26th, the local county clerk will mail a ballot to their house. If a PWD registered after October 26th, it will be too late to get a ballot mailed and the PWD will need to vote at a Voter Service and Polling Center in their county.
Mail-in ballots should arrive at voters’ homes between October 10-15th (they are mailed on October 9th).
PWD don’t have fill out everything on your ballot to sign and return it. Ballots must be received by November 3, 2020 (ballots postmarked but not received by Nov. 3, 2020, will not count). PWD can return their ballot by:
PWD should know that they cannot get COVID from touching a drop box. (Although always wash your hands every time coming home regardless.) It is also very safe to go to a vote center wearing a mask and staying 6 feet apart from others.
President – The United States is electing a President in 2020. All voters will be asked to pick a presidential candidate. The President is very important to PWD by:
The Democratic candidate for president is Joe Biden.
The Republican candidate for president is Donald Trump.
There are third-party candidates, but they have no chance of winning. You can look up other candidates on their websites when you get your ballot.
Senate – Colorado is electing a United States Senator this year. All voters will be asked to pick a senatorial candidate.
Senators are important to PWD because they can create laws and vote on things important to PWD like disability rights and Medicaid funding.
The Republican candidate is Cory Gardner.
The Democratic candidate is John Hickenlooper.
There are third party candidates but they have no chance of winning. You can look up other candidates on their websites when you get your ballot.
House of Representatives – We elect representatives to the House of Representatives every two years. Representatives are important to PWD because they can create laws and vote on things like making sure PWD can live in the community. Your ballot will include a House of Representative candidate. Your candidate will be based on where you live. You can find out what congressional district you live in by visiting the U.S. House’s find your representative page and entering your address. Click here for a list of candidates and their websites.
State Legislators – Coloradans are electing state legislators this year. State legislators are important for PWD because the help decide Colorado laws and fund important services. Everyone will have a chance to vote for a state representative. PWD may also be asked to vote on a state senator depending where they live. You can find out what state house and senate district you live in by visiting the Colorado General Assembly’s official find my legislator tool and entering your address.
Judges – In Colorado, people are allowed to vote on whether or not they want to keep their judges. Judges don’t run campaigns like most candidates do. If you want to see how a judge is rated their reviews can be found here. You can also look at your “Blue Book,” which might be easier.
A ballot measure is a way for the people in Colorado to make or change law. CCDC takes positions on ballot measures that directly affect the disability community. You can learn more about each measure in your “Blue Book.”
CCDC supports the following measures. If you agree, then you should vote YES on these ballot measures.
Amendment B, Repeal Gallagher Amendment – YES – Voting yes on this amendment may increase property taxes, but Colorado needs that money to help keep community services and other programs important to PWD. If this amendment fails we may see services cut.
Proposition 118, Family and Medical Leave – YES – This will create a state-run program to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for family members who need time off of work to help take care of a family member who is sick or having a baby. This money will be paid for by employers and employees. This is a disability issue because it will help people with disability-related issues take time off of work.
CCDC opposes the following measures. If you agree, then you should vote NO on these ballot measures.
Amendment 76, Qualification of Citizenship for Electors – NO – While not a specific disability issue, CCDC opposes anything that has the potential to stop people from voting. This will make it so 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before a general election can no longer vote in the primary election. The state already has a secure election system that ensures only those who meet legal requirements can vote in elections. Click here for more detailed information in opposition to this amendment.
Proposition 116, State Income Tax Reduction – NO – CCDC opposes this measure because it could reduce Colorado tax dollars used to support disability programs. Click here for more detailed information in opposition to this proposition from Fair Tax Colorado.
Proposition 117, Voter Approval for Fee-Based Enterprise – NO – CCDC opposes this measure because it could reduce Colorado tax dollars used to support disability programs. Click here for more detailed information in opposition to this proposition.
No Position: CCDC neither supports or opposes the ballot issues and provides the following to help you better understand the questions PWD are asked to decide.
Proposition 115, Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks
CCDC neither supports nor opposes Prop 115 because the disability community has very different opinions on this issue. This proposal would limit the right to get an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. We have provided statements from both the YES and the NO campaigns here with links to their website.
If you vote YES: Prop 115 would not allow a woman to have an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
If you vote NO: Nothing would change on this issue.
Click here for detailed Pro and Con statements from the campaigns.
CCDC neither supports nor opposes Proposition EE. This increases taxes on tobacco and creates a new tax on nicotine (e-cigarettes/vaping). That tax money would be used for preschool and initially some other health initiatives such as anti-vaping education.
If you vote YES: Tobacco products like cigarettes and e-cigarettes will cost more money due to additional tax. That tax money will be used to help people quit tobacco products like cigarettes and provide education in schools to help kids understand why they should not use tobacco.
If you vote NO: Nothing will change on how much tobacco products like cigarettes cost.
Click here for arguments supporting and opposing this proposition.
There are other ballot initiatives that are not disability issues. They are:
There are important local questions as well. Because we are a statewide organization we are not identifying them in this guide, but we do have positions on some of these. Contact Lead Organizer Dawn Howard or Executive Director Julie Reiskin if you have questions on local issues.
PWD, our families, friends, and allies are important voters. Our votes help decide vital things like the future of the Americans with Disabilities Act and healthcare, including Medicaid — to name just a few. In the 2020 election PWD will be asked to vote on candidates like the President and to decide issues like making sure Colorado has enough money to fund programs like community services. We should try to answer all of the questions on ballot. We hope this guide will help PWD to make a plan on how they are going to vote and return their ballot. If you have more questions about voting, visit the Just Vote Colorado website or call their hotline at 1-866-687-8683. Just Vote Colorado is a non-partisan comprehensive voting resource for all Colorado voters. If you experience discrimination based on your disability, please contact Disability Law Colorado at 303-722-0300 or toll-free at 1-800-238-1376. For Relay call 711.
United States House of Representatives candidates in Colorado
Congressional District One:
Congressional District Two:
Congressional District Three:
Congressional District Four:
Congressional District Five:
Congressional District Six:
Congressional District Seven:
Amendment 76, Qualification of Citizenship for Electors
Statement from the Campaign for Real Election Protection:
What does initiative 76 do? Specify that “only a citizen of the US who has attained the age of 18” rather than “every citizen of the US who has attained the age of 18” is eligible to vote in Colorado Elections. While changing one word in our constitution may seem harmless, this initiative, run and funded by out of state interests, would take Colorado a step back in voter accessibility and open the door for voter suppression. The state already has a secure election system that ensures only those who meet the legal requirements can vote in elections. Ultimately, the measure seeks to 1) solve a problem that does not exist 2) may result in voter confusion about state and local elections, and 3) could discourage and disenfranchise voters measure has no immediate impact on voting requirements for non-citizens but will, however, remove the ability for 17-year-olds to participate in primary elections should they be 18 by the time of the general election. Vote NO on 76.^
Proposition 117, Voter Approval for Fee-Based Enterprise
Analysis by the Colorado Fiscal Institute.
The Problem with Proposition 117
Proposition 117 would mandate a vote on the creation of new enterprise funds that collect revenues above $100 million over the first five fiscal years. This is a direct assault on Colorado’s ability to provide critical services to its residents.
What is an Enterprise Fund?
Enterprise funds were created as part of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in 1992. They are defined by a few specific aspects.
An important aspect of enterprise funds is the use of fees, instead of taxes. Taxes are used for general funding that is up to the discretion of lawmakers. Fees are a cost to an individual in exchange for a good or service.
Prop 117 is not about fees, however. It is about enterprise funds. Enterprise funds are not subject to our state’s arbitrary revenue cap. Forcing enterprise funds to be subject to the revenue cap will crowd out other important priorities like education, transportation, and health care. For example, the enterprise encompassing student tuition is $11.5 billion, basically the same amount as the entire General Fund. If tuition were subject to the revenue cap, we would not have any money for anything else in Colorado.
Voting NO on Proposition 117 is Good for Colorado
Proposition 117 is a solution in search of a problem. Without a fair tax system, enterprise funds are a critical part of providing services to Coloradans.
CCDC Takes No Position
Proposition 115, Prohibit Abortions After 22 Weeks
Yes on 115, Statement from DueDateTooLate.com
Proposition 115 protects viable human life – after the baby can survive outside the womb, suck her thumb, respond to her mother’s touch and voice, and feel excruciating pain during the abortion procedure. Prop 115 places a reasonable restriction on abortion after 22 weeks while still allowing a pregnant woman several months to make a choice about her pregnancy. Late-term abortions are extreme. Colorado is an outlier in the US and the world by allowing unrestricted late-term abortions. Only 6 other states in the US and 4 other countries (out of 198) in the world permit unrestricted late-term abortions. The notion that a fully alive and fully human late-term baby is killed so violently in Colorado, including for reasons of disability, and is not afforded the same value and dignity that infants enjoy is simply wrong, cruel, and inhumane. Coloradans from every voting block (Democrat, Republican, Independent, and Unaffiliated) find reasonable the 22-week restriction. The measure provides an exception for ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and when necessary to save the life of the mother. Under Prop 115 a woman will not be criminalized or penalized for seeking an abortion. The goal of Proposition 115 is to protect women and their babies, give them better options, and help them in their difficult circumstances. Let’s give every one of our precious babies a chance for life to reach the fullest of their potential.
No on 115, Statement from No On 115
Every pregnancy is unique, and pregnant people are experts in their own lives. Like all other health care decisions, decisions around pregnancy should be made by the individual, with support from their family and in consultation with their doctor — without political interference. Proposition 115 is a one-size-fits-all ban on abortion later in pregnancy that includes no exceptions for risks to the pregnant person’s health. It deprives individuals of the self-determination to make personal medical decisions. This intentionally confusing measure is pushed by the same politicians and groups that have tried — and failed — to ban abortion in Colorado more than ten times in the last decade. Prop 115 imposes additional barriers to health care access that disproportionately impact the disability community, LGBTQ+ community, communities of color, and young people. We should focus on enacting laws that support the dignity and reproductive autonomy of all people, including people with disabilities, not putting politics in the middle of important, personal health care decisions. Prop 115 is wrong for Coloradans. Please vote “no” on Proposition 115.
To learn more about Proposition 115 and get involved, please visit voteno115.com.
PRO: Written by Dr. Kimberley Jackson, CCDC Board Member:
Though not directly a disability issue, the long-term effects of smoking and vaping can certainly lead to an increase in disability. While this issue may disproportionately affect people with some disabilities, such as mental illness (which is linked to higher rates of tobacco use), we know that mental illness can lead to higher rates of addiction, including to tobacco. Continuing to use tobacco decreases the likelihood that treatment of other addiction will be effective, and therefore can increase the prevalence of other addiction. Tobacco use has a cost to society in that it increases the overall rate of many diseases. There is also no known medicinal benefit from tobacco use to society and it doesn’t have any medicinal benefit.
CON: Written by David Henninger, CCDC Board Member:
I am opposed to the nicotine tax increase because even though it may cause some smokers to quit due to expense this is an addiction — the population most impacted are individuals with low incomes and this just creates revenue off the backs of the poor.
CCDC thanks the ballot guide committee:
CCDC mourns the passing of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
There are no appropriate expressions to describe the magnificence of this Supreme Court Justice except to say she got the message. Justice Bader Ginsburg believed strongly in the words engraved on the front of her work home for 27 years, “Equal Justice Under Law.” Words you cannot miss when entering the United States Supreme Court building. Justice Bader Ginsburg believed in equal justice under the law, most notably for women, but, more importantly, for everyone. In her personal opinion and those she authored for the court, Justice Bader Ginsburg understood that “We the People” means all people – not only rich white men who have prevented so many people, different from themselves, from attaining equal justice under the law.
Justice Ginsburg left this world on September 18, 2020, at age 87, after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. She left this country with changes in the law that will be remembered forever; changes that must also be preserved.
There is a reason the Supreme Court looked like it did. It is called “discrimination” – a term and its insidious effects we at CCDC are familiar with, as was Justice Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “The Notorious RGB.” Justice Ginsburg understood discrimination because she lived it. She graduated as the highest-ranking female student in her class from Cornell University. She then enrolled at Harvard Law School as one of only nine women with approximately 500 men, eventually serving on the Harvard Law Review. At one point the Dean asked all nine women the same question, “Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?”
Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School when her husband, Marty Ginsburg, a tax lawyer, took a New York City job. At Columbia, she became the first woman to be on two major law reviews: Harvard and Columbia. In 1959, she earned her law degree at Columbia, graduating joint first in her class.
Achieving such high honors should have led to a great career with a New York City law firm. However, Justice Ginsburg could not find employment. She explained it this way: despite her extraordinary academic achievements, she had three strikes against her: she was (1) a woman; (2) Jewish; and (3) at that time, had a young child. The expected norm in the late 50s and early 60s was for her to be her child’s caretaker. These combined factors meant finding a job with almost any law firm was nearly impossible. In 1960, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, based on her gender, rejected her for a clerkship position.
In 1963 she became a professor at Rutgers Law School, despite being told that she would be paid less than her male colleagues because her husband had a well-paid job. These experiences led her to co-found the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, a law journal focused exclusively on women’s rights.
It was not until 1967 did the look of the court begin to change with the first Black man named to the Supreme Court – Justice Thurgood Marshall. It was another 26 years before the first woman would be appointed when in 1981, President Ronald Regan nominated Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In 1993, 206 years after the Supreme Court’s establishment, President Bill Clinton appointed Justice Ginsburg. The United States Senate confirmed her by a 96–3 vote on August 3, 1993.
In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded and was General Counsel of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU. From 1972 to 1974, she participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases. Famously, she successfully argued 5 out of 6 gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, claims brought on behalf of both women and men, demonstrating that gender discrimination is harmful to both.
It wasn’t until Ginsburg’s work in Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971) that the Supreme Court extended the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to women. It prohibits any state from denying “any person equal protection of the laws.” She calculated her winning method by following the strategic approach of Thurgood Marshall, taking a step-by-step approach to challenging gender-based discriminatory laws under the Equal Protection Clause.
Justice Ginsburg was a true believer in equality for everyone. She authored the majority opinion in Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999) demonstrating her strong commitment to the equal rights of people with disabilities. This landmark decision holds that people with mental disabilities must receive treatment and services in the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual’s needs. This decision established one of the most critical features of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”): preventing the needless institutionalization of people with disabilities capable of living in the community. Also, this decision recognizes that undue institutionalization qualifies as “discrimination.”
In reaching this conclusion, joined by a plurality of the Court, Justice Ginsburg relied heavily on the findings and purposes of the ADA including Congress’ determination that
[H]istorically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and, despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem . . . discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in such critical areas as . . . institutionalization.
The disability community has long hailed the Olmstead decision as acknowledging the simple yet historically unrecognized reality that people with disabilities should live in “Our homes, not nursing homes!” The Olmstead decision is also the very purpose of the political action disability group ADAPT. ADAPT members are friends and allies of CCDC, people who have spent their lives protesting unnecessary segregation and isolation of people with disabilities. Justice Ginsburg’s opinion in Olmstead was the U.S. Supreme Court’s first recognition that people with disabilities may no longer be incarcerated in nursing homes and other institutions when, instead, living in the community is the appropriate answer. The Olmstead decision remains one of the most important Supreme Court decisions ever reached regarding the end of unnecessary discrimination against people with disabilities. It also demonstrates Justice Ginsburg’s understanding of one of the most crucial of the ADA’s promises – that all people, regardless of perceived differences, are entitled to the same opportunities and equal protection under the law. It was no longer permissible to hide and keep from public view, people with disabilities. CCDC cannot thank Justice Ginsburg enough for this critical ruling. She was a true believer in equal and social justice for all people.
When I’m sometimes asked “When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?” and I say “When there are nine,” people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.
It may well be said that Justice Ginsburg’s dissenting opinions are also essential expressions of all people’s equality. Justice Ginsburg has stated publicly that one of her proudest professional moments came when authoring the dissenting opinion for Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 550 U.S. 618 (2007). The claim was regarding unequal pay for equal work. Upon retirement, Lilly Ledbetter discovered the pay discrepancy. However, the majority opinion held that Lilly Ledbetter did not raise her claim within the 180-day time frame to bring a claim. Justice Ginsburg made clear in her dissenting opinion that the ongoing disparity in payment between women and men is not something that is discovered paycheck by paycheck. Therefore, the 180 day period in which the majority found had expired was insufficient to ensure proper compensation for such pay disparities. This case led to Congress passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama.
CCDC Executive Director Julie Reiskin could not agree more with Justice Ginsburg’s famous quotation,
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
The importance of Justice Ginsburg’s passing is a stark reminder to all of us an issue Kevin Williams has been raising with CCDC members and people with disabilities for years:
“Everyone knows that all Federal Court judges and Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate’s advice and consent. If you don’t think voting matters, you’re not paying attention.”
The immediate question for all voters and constituents should be whether the current President and Senate should push through this lifetime appointment now or wait until the next presidential election? The last time a Justice died was in 2016 – ten months before the presidential election. Senator Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the following before the 2016 election shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:
“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, “Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.”
He then repeated,
“And you could use my words against me, and you’d be absolutely right.”
Also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Senator Graham’s comments in February 2016:
“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell said. “The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice.”
However, on September 18, 2020, within hours of her death, both senators said they intended to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Ginsburg’s death. Any nominee President Trump puts forward will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.
No one knows what will happen between now and November 3, 2020, but CCDC encourages you to vote. See Colorado Voter Q & A from CCDC. Your vote counts! Why, when individual voters do not vote for Federal Court judges? It is simple:
We will miss Justice Ginsburg for her wisdom, passion for equality, humor, and contributions to the Supreme Court, particularly in equal rights for all people for the last 27 years.
We continue to ask you to vote on or before November 3. Colorado mail-in ballots will arrive on or around October 9th. In short, voting remains highly important if for no other reason than to ensure the judges throughout the federal court system, including the Supreme Court, are appointed by a President who holds your same values and will nominate the federal judges you want.
Call our Senators and demand a reasonable, thoughtful process for vetting our next Supreme Court Justice.
As we get closer to the November election, questions about the process increase. We have a Q & A for you that may answer many of them.
Just a reminder: Colorado is a vote by mail state. This means you will receive your ballot in the mail and you can return it by mail, or drop your ballot off at a dropbox (secured and monitored by camera.)
You may have been hearing a lot in the media and from the White House about voter fraud surrounding mail-in ballots. A study of the 2016 presidential election conducted by the Colorado secretary of state’s office uncovered 112 total instances of possible improper voting during the 2014 contest. To put that in perspective, that is 112 out of 2.9 million voters or less than 0.004%!
You can ensure your vote counts but checking your voter registration status at the secretary of state website, and then return your ballot with enough time if you mail it or better still, drop it off at a voter dropbox. You can even check the status of the ballot you mailed in or dropped off. Just make sure your voice is heard.
Your vote does count! Recent elections across our country have been won or lost by a few hundred or thousand votes. Coloradoans will be voting for the President and who will represent us in the Senate. The President appoints and the Senate confirms judges that decide important civil rights cases and will determine the future of the ADA. They also decide who will run important agencies like Health and Human Services, Social Security, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development that make rules that affect us. We will also be voting on important ballot measures that affect our daily life in Colorado.
If you do not know how to vote the Secretary of State Website has a lot of great information including information for people with disabilities. If you cannot understand it call CCDC or any disability advocacy organization for assistance.
As a non-profit organization, CCDC can not tell people to vote for or against candidates. One suggestion is to make a list of the services you use and then go to the candidate website and see if they are willing to fund the services. Do you use the Division of Rehabilitation (DVR), Medicaid (CDASS, Waivers, Homemaker Services), Special Education, public transportation? In early October, we will have a voter guide to explain ballot measures which will impact benefits and services for people with disabilities. We can suggest that people vote or against ballot measures. You make the final decision!
Ballots will be mailed beginning October 9. It may take up to a week to receive your ballots.
In Colorado, we have several ways to vote. A person can vote in person at a voting service center, mail a ballot in, or drop their ballot off at a dropbox which all have cameras. CCDC is encouraging our members to vote early and drop them off at a drop box. If you are unable to drop your ballot off, you can have an aide or friend drop it off. Anyone can drop off 9 ballots and their own per election. You may be able to drop off another person’s ballot. There is a number on each ballot envelope that you can use to make sure your ballot is counted. Justvotecolorado.org will tell you where the nearest voter service center location is and dropbox. Remember each Coloradoan can vote only 1 time so make sure your voice is counted.
Yes, Here in Colorado individuals who have a guardian can vote.
People can register to vote and vote on election day until 7 pm (Tuesday, November 3rd) when the polls close.
Colorado law has provisions to help you vote in private if you want to. Go to Accessible Voting for information.
ALL ballots must be in by 7 pm on Tuesday, November 3. This means they must be in, not postmarked. So if you mail your ballot, mail it at least ten days before 11/3 (or on 10/24).
Call Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing, at 303-531-7333
The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has adopted the following protocols for conducting jury and bench trials in the Arraj and Rogers Courthouses in Denver during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adopted by the Court on June 30, 2020.
In conjunction with the Getting Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) will be issuing a social media video challenge – “I’m disabled and this is why I vote…”
This is a call to arms for any and everyone in the disability community – regardless of disability type, or severity – to rise up and use your voice to demand action!
We need the disabled community to be registered to vote, to exercise their right to vote, and to hold their elected officials accountable to fulfilling their campaign promises – especially when it comes to protecting persons living with disabilities civil rights and healthcare, especially Medicaid.
Here’s how you can participate:
CCDC has received questions about returning to work as it relates to people with disabilities. Our state has a return to work guidance that is relevant to unemployment. The EEOC has also issued guidance about returning to work. It is in Section G: Return to Work.
People with disabilities and those we live with have vastly different experiences and needs. Therefore, this is not intended to be directive or legal guidance. This document should help people think about what questions they need to ask of themselves and their employers.
Answering “Yes” to any of these questions means you have additional things to think about with regard to returning to work.
OSHA Guidance for Employers
Questions to ask yourself and your employer:
If you ask for a reasonable accommodation, remember:
If there is no way to accommodate you in your position consider:
If you feel you have faced discrimination, see what your employer’s internal grievance process is. If you are a member of a union, they should be able to help you. Otherwise, if you want to file a discrimination complaint you must submit an administrative complaint with a government agency.
Written by Nina Endler of Boulder, CO July, 2020
Earlier this year, something happened in my neighborhood of 1960s ranches, split levels, and tri-levels that I wished had been there while my children were growing up. (For the record, they’re 19 and 22.)
In the first part of a year that marks 30 years since this happened -my neighborhood, in which the trees now tower over the houses at long last received these: curb cuts!
How nice it would have been to have these while I was pushing a baby jogger, while my daughters were learning to ride bikes, while…
But wait, that’s not their intended purpose – that’s not their raison d’etre.
They are, however probably the best example of universal design, of something that was done so more of us could participate and which those of us who were already participating also benefit from. With them, my neighbors who are now pushing baby joggers no longer need to carefully navigate going down and then up each curb. Children who are now learning to ride bikes no longer need to stop, get off their bike, and then get back on. Walking and wheeling through the neighborhood is now more seamless. Something for which the wheels (pun intended) were set in motion 30 years ago is benefiting significantly more people than was initially intended.
Recently, the state chapter of the union I belong to held a webinar and after it was over, emailed the link to its membership. I received this email on my phone, clicked on the link, and, as I do when captions don’t automatically come up, searched for a way to turn them on. As the displays are different on different devices, and willing to give the state chapter of my union the benefit of the doubt, I figured that the captions didn’t display on smaller devices such as phones. Since I wasn’t near my larger devices at the time, and as I had also seen a social media post about the webinar, I inquired on the post about the availability of captions. The state contact apologized “that wasn’t accommodated on this webinar. I realize that is not ok and we will correct for future webinars.”
It has now been 30 years since the first President Bush signed the ADA. Let’s stop thinking of captions as an accommodation. Let’s stop thinking of things like curb cuts and captions as accommodations and start thinking of them as universal design. Let’s eliminate the perception of curb cuts and captions as being “for those who need them.” Just as people who are currently pushing baby joggers and children who are currently learning to ride a bike in my neighborhood are benefiting from the new curb cuts, here’s a starter list of how people with typical hearing benefit from captions.
Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, OTTO Health didn’t include captions in their telehealth platform. Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, Zoom does not offer live captions that anyone can turn on with the click of a button. Because captions are still thought of as an accommodation rather than as universal design, I can’t follow a YouTube video that doesn’t have the CC icon in the lower right corner.
Let’s stop thinking of things like curb cuts and captions as accommodations and start thinking of them as what they really are – a universal design that everyone benefits from. With universal design, webinars wouldn’t be filmed, online platforms wouldn’t be made and YouTube videos wouldn’t be posted without captions. And someone with typical hearing can watch the recording of a webinar in bed while they’re insomniac and not wake up the person sleeping next to them.
Tribute was written by Kevin W. Williams, Legal Program Director,
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition Civil Rights Legal Program
“We are one people with one family. We’ll live in the same house . . . and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”* – Rep. John Lewis (All quotations throughout this CCDC Memorial blog are the words of John Lewis himself unless otherwise noted).
This tribute allows John Lewis to speak for himself in the humble yet powerful way only he could.
The disability rights movement owes an enormous debt of gratitude to John Lewis, who died on July 17, 2020. His was indeed a life well-lived. He was our teacher and demonstrated why, in so many ways, “Black Lives Matter!” Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle referred to him as the “Conscience of the Congress,” and Congress will never be the same without him. His life, his perspective, his commitment stayed with him until the day he died. We need and miss him, especially now, and always will.
In 1961, John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders; the group made up of seven black and six white Americans. They were determined to ride from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. Much of this work was attributed to his involvement with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Congress of Racial Equality. He and the other Freedom Riders were severely beaten and jailed as they entered the southern states.
“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”*
The disability community took all of its cues from John Lewis when shutting down the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver, Colorado. The Gang of 19 threw themselves out of their wheelchairs and blocked buses overnight on the busiest street in Denver – Colfax Avenue between Broadway and Lincoln. The Gang of 19 was responsible for forcing RTD to be the first transportation system in the country to install wheelchair lifts on its buses. All of the tactics for making this happen can be attributed to the work of John Lewis.
Denied the right to vote, he and the other marchers refused to give up! Even as he led the march (literally — he was at the front of the line) across the bridge, at which point the Alabama State Patrol took a billy club to his head before arresting him. John Lewis, following in the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King, understood and believed in the theory of nonviolent protest. He and those with him demonstrated to this country and the world that those who are willing to risk everything (their bodies, arrest, and even death) without using violence have great power to show the oppressor. Despite repeated attempts to stop the protesters from attaining the same rights enjoyed by all others, they just kept coming back. The message was and, as we have seen with the latest “Black Lives Matter” marches and protests, is powerful. For a while, the nonviolent protest strategies used by John Lewis changed the hearts and minds of many – but not all. And he lived just long enough to see how his efforts and those he orchestrated can still be taken away. Meaning the fight goes on, and we must be prepared to continue.
Indeed, the disability rights movement would not have existed without an understanding of how John Lewis and those of like mind showed this country what injustice looks like and why it can not be tolerated.
“You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.”*
“I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”*
CCDC also sees the involvement of young people with disabilities as a top priority as we navigate through very uncertain times – viewing the progress we have made and seeing what is left for us to do or do over again.
“I say to people today, you must be prepared if you believe in something. If you believe in something, you have to go for it. As individuals, we may not live to see the end.”*
“Never give up. Never give in. Never become hostile . . . HATE is too big a burden to bear.”*
Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University after graduating from The American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. As a student and member of the Nashville Student Movement, he was responsible for organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters.
“When you see something that is not right, not fear, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”*
In 1961, Lewis, as one of the Freedom Riders, was beaten by angry mobs, arrested, and at times, taken to jail.
“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back,” Lewis said towards the end of his life regarding his perseverance following the acts of violence.*
In 1963, he became the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the youngest chairman ever to have led the organization that focused solely upon enforcing the civil rights of Black Americans through the use of nonviolent protest. Before that, he was an active participant in the Nashville Student Movement, whose first mission was to desegregate lunch counters, which were ultimately successful.
“Some of us give a little blood for the right to participate in the democratic process.”*
Many reports state that before becoming a United States Representative, John Lewis was arrested and beaten 40 times during non-violent protests and five times after his election. Despite all of the mistreatment, terrible beatings, arrests for engaging in activity already protected by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution (like voting), Lewis had this to say:
“If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”*
John Lewis was also the youngest speaker during the March on Washington in 1963. He was asked to tone down his speech for being “too radical.”
Many of the strategies and decision-making that went into the protests organized in large part by John Lewis and SNCC were then used by those in the disability rights movement that created organizations like ADAPT and CCDC. The sit-in protests were continued by John Lewis even when he was a member of the House of Representatives. This purpose and meaning behind this particular method of protesting certainly have not been lost on the disability civil rights community.
John Lewis did go on to become the United States Congressional Representative from the Fifth District of the state of Georgia from January 3, 1987, until his death on July 17, 2020. His legislative accomplishments are too many to list, as well as his achievements before becoming a member of Congress.
“If someone had told me in 1963 that one day I would be in Congress, I would’ve said, ‘you’re crazy. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’”*
Not only did John Lewis become a Congressman for the Fifth District of Georgia, but he also served 16 terms in that position. He eventually became the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the House of Representatives Committee and Ways in Means, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, and the senior chief deputy whip in the Democratic caucus.
In these roles, Representative Lewis accomplished a great deal for not only the Black Community but for all people — the human community.
The disability community and everyone who works for the social justice of all people and recognize as John Lewis did —
“[We] really believe that all of us, as Americans . . . we all need to be treated like fellow human beings.”*
Unfortunately, the “Conscience of the Congress” is now gone. Fortunately, he survived his pancreatic cancer just long enough to see the creation of the “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and watch those who have been protesting racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans throughout the country grow to a massive scale.
A champion of justice, a believer in peaceful and nonviolent resistance, a fellow human being standing against the oppression of anyone, and one of the few genuinely decent human beings, John Lewis will be missed. Nevertheless, the young activist individuals who joined the House of Representatives in 2018 are there in no small part due to the legacy of John Lewis. At this critical time in American history, we must all follow Lewis’s words of wisdom and continue our commitment to social justice for all people, including people with disabilities. Rest assured, CCDC will carry on fighting – just as the “Conscience of the Congress” did and expected others to do as well.
Denver Public Health is offering Free COVID-19 Testing. Test results are available within approximately three (3) – five (5) business days. All are welcome regardless of insurance and immigration status. Visit any of our sites.