Importance of citizens with disabilities voting in the November election

Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Todd Vaarwerk, chief policy officer of WNYIL. And I'm your host, Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program Todd. 

Guest: Always good to be here. 

Host: And of course, within your position, you are our expert in all things political. And so, you're prepared to say what the agency has been doing to help people with disabilities appreciate the importance of casting their ballot in this election. 

Guest: Well, and I want to be able to begin by telling our regular listeners that our Meet the Candidates Days are available on our YouTube page for you to actually view directly yourself, to continue to hear from the candidates. And I still have candidates that need individual interviews, which means that you should continue to look at our YouTube page right up until Election Day. 

Now, having said that, I hear a lot from folks about how it's a local election year. It's not going to be anywhere nearly as important as a state or a federal election year or presidential election year. 

And yes, that's true. The largest race we have going on in Erie County, for example, is the County Executive. Our Meet the Candidates Day had all three candidates available for you to peruse their positions on. While in Niagara County, you're looking at the Mayor of Niagara County. 

Host: You mean of Niagara Falls? 

Guest: Niagara Falls. That's right. The mayor of Niagara Falls. 

I think the thing to highlight though is that local elections tend to get people that move up in rank in elections. So, if you care about who our future congressmen and senators and assemblymen and state senators are, you're voting for them or you're likely to vote for them. Now, so by the time our readers read this, this will be Sunday right before Election Day I would assume. 

Host: Right. 

Guest: Very important that you make sure that you cast your ballot. Go to the polling place. If you have an absentee ballot, make sure that you fill that out and turn that in, because if you don't vote, in my mind at least, you don't get the right to complain. Voting is critically important in local election years because they are kind of planning for lower turn out. People with disabilities should be a significant part of turnout. Issues matter to us. The money that they spend locally on curb cuts or the money that they spend on making local government more accessible is controlled by the people that you're currently electing. 

So, if disability issues matter to you, every election matters to you, so you should go and cast your ballot. 

Host: Yes, especially on these low turnout years, I forget who but there was someone who had spoken in an interview and said that he actually won his position only on the basis of a recount of the votes in which you won by 40, four zero votes. 

Guest: Yes, something that our listeners should know is that there are a lot of misnomers about how the various types of votes are counted. All votes are counted, right? They don't have absentee ballots sitting in a drawer and they only get counted if the percentage of victory is so close that they need to count them all. They are all counted. So, anyway you vote, your vote gets counted. The votes on election night, though are taken from the electronic tabulations on voting machines and the election night ones might not count absentee ballots. Those aren't counted until they do the complete count to what they refer to as certifying the election. 

Host: Todd, would you believe we're almost out of time? I'm sure that you've left people with questions. How can they reach you to get them answered? 

Guest: You can always call my office 716-836-0822 ext. 101 or email me at 

Host: Thanks so much for being with us, Todd. 

Guest: Thank you. 

Host: You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today has been Todd Vaarwerk, chief policy officer of WNYIL and I've been your host, Ernie Churchwell.