People With Disabilities Are ‘Severely Underrepresented in Elected Office.’ These Candidates Hope to Change That. ( )

Since the 2016 election, the United States has experienced a historic number of women and people from marginalized communities deciding to run for political office and this year’s elections are already starting to show promise for candidates from diverse backgrounds. Just last week, history was made when Stacey Abrams became the first Black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States.

Dubbed by some as the “Trump effect,” many people who would not have previously considered a career in politics are feeling compelled to do so as the administration puts their rights and lives at stake. And that includes a number of candidates with disabilities running in upcoming local, state, and national elections—some of whom have multiple marginalized identities.

People with disabilities make up a significant segment of our society, and yet for far too long, have been largely excluded from politics. In 2016, 62.7 million eligible voters were expected to either have a disability or had a household member with one, according to researchers at Rutgers University. In other words, more than 25 percent of the total electorate have a personal connection to disability.

Nevertheless, people with disabilities are “severely underrepresented in elected office,” according to the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), which recently began tracking candidates with disabilities running for office in 2018 and 2019 in a database.

Certainly, 2018 is not the first time people with disabilities have decided to enter politics. Indeed, we currently have a handful of politicians with disabilities, such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), who are both wheelchair users. But there is no known data on the number of politicians in the United