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:
Written and compiled by Jaime Lewis, CCDC Transit Advisor September 2020
In January, the service will extend from Pueblo to Trinidad. Bustang is an over the highway bus that is fully accessible. The service connects people to rural parts of the state. Other routes to be established in 2021 include Sterling to Greely, Telluride to Grand Junction, and Craig to Denver. For more information and fares see www.ridebustang.com
Boulder County Transit is now offering Ride Free Layfayette, a free on-demand, door-to-door bus service that connects people to places within the City of Lafayette.
“ A friend told me about the service when it premiered early this summer. I dismissed it. I was sure there was a catch and I wouldn’t be able to ride…because of my chair or some other reason. I was leaving work a few days later when a driver for the service asked if I was the person who requested a ride. So excited, he told me how it all worked. I smiled, thanked him and thought to myself, this is too good to be true. Then… last month another friend curious about the service challenged me to ride. She saw someone step off of a Via bus for happy hour at a local bar and asked what are you doing on Access-a – ride. He said I’m not and explained it’s a new transportation service. At first, I said no to the challenge dreading what the possibility would entail to then be denied. After thinking about it for a few minutes I decided to try. From Googling the number, calling dispatch and boarding the bus was less than 20 minutes. I felt the usual fight and pride I feel every time I roll onto an RTD bus plus something unexpected… VALUED!”
App services Uber and Lyft upgraded decades-old transportation opportunities for many but not people with disabilities … And a discount program for low-income individuals excluded access-a-ride passengers. Unlike that. Lafayette Free Ride is a model transportation service and a helpful cog for public transportation.
Dawn Russell, Lafayette Resident, ADAPT Activist
For more information on Ride Free Layfayette go to www.cityoflayfayette.com
CCDC requested each candidate to provide their platform or efforts in addressing accessibility for the elderly and disabled through transit.
(DNR) = Did not Response
Currently, RTD has two resident committees that aid and guide policies related to disabled passengers.
Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities
Access-a-Ride Paratransit Advisory committee
I am entirely supportive of elevating the attention given to these two groups by having more direct participation with the Board.
I opposed the increase to Access-a-Ride fares in 2018. I have and will continue, to support the addition of new technologies and services like 3rd party providers and the use of travel vouchers that give more flexibility and options to riders.
Despite an upheaval of daily routines this last year, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that we continue to get older as a population.
Currently, seniors have a 50% fare discount. No less important, the facilities and vehicles need to be clean and safe and services need to be reliable in order for people (of all ages) to ride. Older people may also benefit from a voucher program that offers greater flexibility and access.
One of my first initiatives I would like to spearhead as a director would be lowering train and bus fares. This would also include lowering the discounted fares for elderly and disabled riders. We are one of the most expensive transportation networks in the entire country, and I want RTD to match the fare rates of other cities. I want to make sure all our riders do not feel priced out of using our services, especially riders who are reliant on RTD for their daily transportation needs.
I want all our riders to feel that they had a positive experience using RTD. That includes the price of fares, the ease of reaching a train or bus stop, the ease of accessing the vehicle, the cooperation of RTD staff with helping riders, and of course the ride itself. This is crucial for riders who use RTD as their sole means of transportation. As a director, I want riders to feel they have had a positive experience riding for every ride. I want to make sure our trains and buses arrive on time. I want to make sure all our vehicles have accessible features. And I want to make sure we keep RTD routes that people are truly reliant on.
I actually would love to hear from riders with disabilities and/or elderly riders. I want to know specifically how riders feel regarding overall accessibility, how riders feel about the Free Travel Training Program, and how route limitations, due to COVID, has had an effect on overall travel. If you or the CCDC would be interested, I would like to host a virtual listening session to hear from elderly riders and riders with disabilities. I want our riders to feel they have a voice.
If you are interested, let me know and we can begin planning a date. I also understand if there is already too much on your, or CCDC’s calendar. Thank you again for reaching out. I hope to speak with you in the future!
You asked for my platform on accessibility. I don’t have a platform. As you know the office of the Board of Directors is a nonpartisan office. Board members are there to provide governance for the staff. RTD has an internal function that addresses accessibility and I’m sure will advocate for that community.
My goal for RTD is excellence in public policy and that includes accessibility and many other aspects of serving the public.
I’m very much interested in hearing your ideas for RTD. I’ve checked your website, and I agree with your motto of “nothing about us without us”. I read some of your documents, and I know that I can be an advocate for greater access, efficiency, and equity for people with disabilities on the RTD Board. I will be succeeding and speak regularly with Claudia Folska, who is visually impaired.
Even if the issue is more about city council, like not enough room on a sidewalk to get into a bus shelter, I can reach out to the appropriate authorities to advocate for you.
As you may know of my time in the legislature, I did extensive outreach to keep in touch with my constituents and with stakeholders on bills. I also included people and organizations who had never been in the Capitol building. So, I hope we’ll develop a close working relationship when I get on the board in January.
I am Kyle Bradell and I am a candidate for RTD District A. For whatever reason, RTD appears to make accessibility and quality of service for the elderly and the disabled on the trains, buses, and Access-a-Rides difficult. I am sure it is not done on purpose. However, the decisions that this agency has taken over 30 years along with its slow-moving decision process makes me think they lack an understanding how to manage a transit system. As an example, the past three years I have been a volunteer member of RTD’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities (ACPD). At the August 2019 meeting, RTD wanted the Committee’s input on what to do with the increasing cases of riders using the wheelchair ramps (aka high-blocks) at light rail stations who are not disabled. These riders include people with scooters, luggage, bikes, baby carriages, etc. I provided a few ideas and solutions. One solution I shared was to have a simple sign installed that states: No Bicycles, No Scooters, No Baby Carriages, No Luggage. Nothing fancy, just straight to the point. Sadly, it has been over a year now and RTD has yet to make a decision — on a simple sign that would make it easier for disabled riders using the light rail ramps. I want to make it easier for the disabled and the elderly to use RTD. Here are just a few ideas and solutions I have to make life easier when using RTD:
1. Retrofit the light rail trains and stations similar to Dallas’ rail system. A retrofit will allow wheelchair riders additional access to board light rail trains than the present one door. This stems to the early 1990s when RTD bought the wrong kind of train.
2. RTD and the City of Denver need to include “heated sidewalks” the entire length of 16th Street Mall as part of the renovation project. “Heated sidewalks” would be a tremendous benefit to everyone strolling along 16th Street when there is snow. The elderly would be able to walk safely on dry sidewalks and the disabled, such as people in wheelchairs, would not be blocked by huge piles of snow and ice.
3. For bus stop improvements, I would like to see a sign installed at each stop informing riders who is responsible for the maintenance of the bus stop during snow storms, for example. Presently, one must call RTD and inform them the bus stop is inaccessible. RTD, then, contacts the respective government jurisdiction responsible for the bus stop and tells them to shovel the snow. I recommend for better operations of RTD that signs be posted saying which government jurisdiction is responsible for the bus stop along with a phone number. Thereby, one can bypass RTD completely and tell the city or county that the bus stop cannot be accessed.
These are just three solutions to make RTD more accessible for everyone while planning for the future. I have travelled to 56 countries around the world and, most of the time, I use public transportation. I have experienced and observed metro systems and I know what works and what doesn’t work. It’s time to tweak and streamline RTD so that everyone gets the most bang for their buck! Sincerely, Kyle Bradell Candidate for RTD District A www.kyleforrtd.com.
I am Kate Williams – I am the incumbent Director, District A, which basically geographically is Colfax south to Yale and I25 East to Yosemite- and this is a nonpartisan position that I have held for almost four years now. My predecessors are Bill James and Bill Elfenbein; I still meet with them both often and have learned how RTD became what it is today.
My first big news – RTD is in the process of hiring the first black female GM in our 50-year history –there were great candidates, and it was a very hard decision – with many hours of work.
I am a longtime advocate for older adults & those with disabilities – some of my prior positions include being a Resource Coordinator for the Blind (I made actual house calls); acting as the Executive Director of the largest provider of transit in Douglas County, which still is the Castle Rock Senior Center; and running a sports center for persons with disabilities in Florida, Shake A Leg Miami.
Now – I run RTD, and I run DRMAC, the Denver Regional Mobility & Access Council. You can read more on our website: https://www.drmac-co.org/about/our-vision/. For 15 years DRMAC has been helping older adults and persons with disabilities with transportation options; it is my “dream job”. It is what I do all day, every day; I live, work, use, and am dedicated to transit and to riders.
I am a Certified Community Transit Manager; I am a graduate of the Transit Alliance Citizen’s Academy; I run the CDOT Regional Coordinating Council for this area; I have chaired the RTD Operations and Customer Service committee for 3 years. I am on RTD’s ACPD (Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities); I serve on many other related committees, boards, advisory councils, and task forces. I have shared my office with a disability transit advocate who uses a wheelchair.
Some quick RTD facts – RTD covers 2,700 square miles, we have over 1,000 buses, and two types of trains. Do you know the difference between light rail and commuter rail, and which of our lines are which? (Everything north is commuter rail and all south is light rail- and they are very different). Pre COVID, we averaged 365,000 riders daily; now we are averaging 150,000 riders across the network.
I was asked to run based on my work in the community in transit and advocacy; I spend a lot of time in my District and throughout the larger RTD footprint – out in front of my local grocery I hear over and over that older adults who may someday not be able to drive need good transit services; essential workers need to be able to get to work; kids need to get to school. I believe that transit is a social determinate of health, and statistics show that those who depend on public transportation use it for access to health care, food sources, schools, social services, and more. My platform started with and still includes the need for more smaller shorter cheaper local circulators, with lots of mid-day runs. We want all of our public transportation to be different). Pre COVID, we averaged 365,000 riders daily; now we are averaging 150,000 riders across the network.
I was asked to run based on my work in the community in transit and advocacy; I spend a lot of time in my District and throughout the larger RTD footprint – out in front of my local grocery I hear over and over that older adults who may someday not be able to drive need good transit services; essential workers need to be able to get to work; kids need to get to school. I believe that transit is a social determinate of health, and statistics show that those who depend on public transportation use it for access to health care, food sources, schools, social services, and more. My platform started with and still includes the need for more smaller shorter cheaper local circulators, with lots of mid-day runs. We want all of our public transportation to be accessible, safe, clean, available, and dependable.
That is who I am, and this is what I do – transit, 24/7. I have spent 4 years learning the RTD system and finding out how to be effective for issues that affect all riders. It takes time to figure out what works and what does not – what is good for the people in my community – and what can be changed. I would like to have another 4 years to continue that work – I would like to see RTD move out of the current morass that we are in and into what we all envision it could and should be.
RTD’s efficiency and ability to increase ridership has been a challenge for them for the last five years. Rising cost, lower than expected ridership on new light rail trains, and of course COVID, has put this essential infrastructure for citizens mobility in dire straits.
In 2019, RTD established a Reimagine project. It was an effort to gather input from all corners of business, government, and stakeholders to imagine what RTD could look like in 2040. Unfortunately, as RTD’s financial problems started mounting, including a driver shortage and COVID the group’s focus was re-directed to what would it take to ensure RTD could survive the perfect storm.
Overwhelmingly, the needle starts pointing to a smaller operating area, lower frequency in outlying areas, and an assertive effort to increase the quality of service in high use areas.
A majority of these areas include low-income neighborhoods and communities that depend on RTD to get them to work. As you imagine, most of these areas are in urban areas of the district.
Current conditions will remain in place through the first two quarters of 2021. The run board, as they refer to it, will not change until RTD’s records increase in ridership. This is where RTD fails to serve its customers. How and why would a person want to return to RTD services if there is no improvement to service quality?
Ridership will not increase until RTD improves service in urban areas, though that action will cut deeper into their finances.
It’s the old adage, what came first, the chicken or the egg.
RTD, take care of your customers first.
One of the things that drive me to be an advocate is to see the freedom and opportunities that people can take advantage of. The activities and access that seem so easy for people without a disability is often a challenge for our community members.
I’ve started highlighting places that have done an exceptional job preparing and making their business accessible. Not only complying with the law but fulfilling the spirit of the law. I will also report on places that are not in compliance.
Each entity I identify will be judged by basic criteria like:
Of course, this list cannot be totally comprehensive because every business is different. However, we will apply a grade to each business visited to provide you with information on how accessible they are.
There is this outrageous show on Thursday nights called Holy Moly. It’s an over the top display of miniature golf. The program brought back such fond memories of the game, it prompted me to google “wheelchair accessible mini golf Denver”. To my surprise, there was a hit – Urban Putt.
Urban Putt is a restaurant/mini-golf course located at the Old Spaghetti Factory located at 1201 18th St. Denver, CO 80202.
Alex Lane, course manager, and Kete Blonigen were kind enough to talk to me after my first round. They were open to suggestions and changes that I presented to them that would make the experience enjoyable for people using mobility devices.
I was able to maneuver with my power chair about 85% of the course. Alex and Kete are currently making the changes that will make the course 100% accessible.
Urban Putt is following State guidelines for COVID prevention providing sanitized putters and balls. The staff wears masks and are constantly cleaning.
They offer a grabber stick for those who would have difficulty picking up the ball from the hole or floor. Some of the holes are quite adventurous and some are dark for special effects. For those with sight issues, bringing a small flashlight may not be a bad idea.
Urban Putt also has a full bar and an Americana food menu.
Note: Urban Putt passed most of the criteria that we expect from a fully accessible venue. However, there is no power door opener in the front. Each time that I have attended the staff was ready and willing to have the second door open for you as you enter.
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:
See Second Lawsuit Filed Against Facility Recently for Not Allowing Service Animals.
This Media Release was sent when the lawsuit was filed. Additional Media Coverage can be found in the cases file for Kolbe v. Endocrine Services, 17-cv-1871-RM-SKC.
Kevin W. Williams
Guest Blog Contributor, Civil Rights Legal Program Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
appeared July 20, 2020 History, Colorado
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.
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Colorado’s Premier Nonprofit run by and for people with disabilities working for the Social Justice of all Coloradans with disabilities is looking to hire a temporary, part-time Digital Organizing Assistant (DOA) to assist with our Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts, #Vote4Medicaid Campaign, and Census Outreach using the messaging app Outvote to engage in relational organizing.
Digital Organizing is the process in which a person emails/ texts friends and family members with the intent of persuading them to take action.
Many CCDC members and Coloradans with significant disabilities (nearly a half-million individuals) utilize Medicaid for health care, Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), and Durable Medical Equipment (DME). Medicaid enables Coloradans to have a choice in where they live, who assists them in daily activities (bathing, getting in and out of bed), and remain members of their communities. Over a million people in Colorado rely on Medicaid. Our aim is to expand the numbers of people who understand the importance of Medicaid.
In November we need to elect a President and a Colorado Senator who align with our values and mission of Social Justice for people with disabilities. If the position is able to be extended beyond the November election, the DOA will assist CCDC members to spread pro-Medicaid and other disability rights messages.
The Digital Organizing Assistant will engage in base building (outreach, engage, motivate) CCDC members to spread Outvote (messaging app and web-based application) messages via email or texts. You will work with current adopters of Outvote to expand the group and build and use lists. You will craft regular messages to keep engagement up and identify actions that people can take while recruiting others. You will also increase CCDC membership through this process by helping current members reach out to invite friends and family to join CCDC. CCDC members will spread messages and encourage their friends to use Outvote to spread messages. You will identify active and engaged members and encourage/support them to engage in leadership opportunities.
Due to the need to maintain social distance, all activities will be via phone, text, or zoom for the foreseeable future.
This is a part-time temporary position under the supervision of our Director of Community Organizing. There is a possibility of continuing and expanding in the future. The current offer is for approximately 10 hours per week for $18/hr ($18.50 for Bilingual). Possible bonus for meeting specific numeric goals for membership increases and the number of people reached.
Send Dawn Howard, Director of Community Organizing (email@example.com) a resume or letter including a description of experience using apps and social media plus three references by August 11, 2020 at 5pm
“We’re an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.”
CCDC actively recruits people of color, women, LGBTQIA, and individuals with disabilities. Those interested in our job openings are therefore strongly encouraged to apply.