Monday, December 31, 2018

#CripTheVote 2019 Topic and Feedback Survey

Help us plan #CripTheVote activities for 2019 by taking this brief survey. You can also click here for a text only version of the survey you can download, complete, and email back to us at: CripTheVote@gmail.com.

Create your own user feedback survey

Friday, October 26, 2018

Young Adult with Disabilities to Healthcare Justice Activist: A Narrative and a Plea to Vote

Black and white photo of a white woman wearing glasses, looking upward and smiling, holding two Muppet-like dolls
Photo by Nate Gowdy
This essay is part of a partnership between #CripTheVote and Rooted In Rights. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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My Early Interest In Politics
By Leslie A. Zukor

My first memories of being interested in politics were in eighth grade, when we learned about political theory. I remember being fascinated about how democracy could morph into authoritarianism. By the time I had completed one semester of high school, I had perused political philosophy. Plato was a personal favorite, and I found myself gravitating toward conservative ideas - especially on matters like abortion and other cultural issues. During my sophomore, junior, and senior years, I volunteered on political campaigns, from the state legislature to the US Congress, and even ventured to Washington, DC for a couple of educational programs.

However, it wasn’t until I identified as a disabled person that my worldview began to crystallize. For most of high school, political issues were mere abstractions. I grew up in a wealthy suburb of Seattle, so my food, shelter, and college education were not in question. Before I was an adult with diagnosed disabilities, I had little awareness of healthcare, the economy, and our social safety net. In short, living in wealthy suburbia culminated in privilege, as well as obliviousness to the political and economic realities so many people face.

The Onset of Disability and My Political Consciousness

While I was taking summer courses in between my freshman and sophomore years of college, everything changed. Attending Wellesley, I had hoped to major in Classical Studies and Philosophy, and to do graduate work in either politics or history. From my nineteen-year-old vantage point, my life’s story would inevitably culminate in a PhD and a job somewhere in academia. However, driven by stress, biological factors, and ill-advised medication given by my neurologist, I suffered a breakdown, which culminated in mood dysregulation, panic disorder, and PTSD. During my three-and-a-half-week hospitalization, I started seeing the first signs of what would become nearly a decade and a half of disability.

Only a few weeks after my hospitalization, my family received its first bills for my medical care back in Boston. I quickly learned that I was lucky that my Dad had taken out a policy for me through Wellesley that had covered mental health, because our Washington State-based Regence insurance didn’t afford the same protections. As a result, my family and I averted a $30,000+ hospital bill. No longer was the issue of healthcare merely an abstraction; no longer were prescription drug costs something that only my elders had to face. Now, as a person whose disabilities required medication for the rest of her life, issues I once took for granted were now a matter of life vs. death, poverty vs. sustenance. As my family paid more and more for my medical bills, totalling well over $400,000 in fourteen years, I came to the realization that affordable, accessible healthcare was a preeminent disability right.

Involving Myself in Electoral and Single-Issue Politics

My healthcare justice activism was ultimately motivated by the cementing of my identity as a disabled American. In 2014, I was officially approved for Social Security Disability. Seeing how much Medicare and low income subsidies I personally qualified for under Part D benefited my life, I actively advocated for the policy for all Americans. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I spent the better part of a year volunteering for Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign, being a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Convention, and serving as First Vice Chair of the Washington State Democrats Disabilities Issues Caucus. In all of my activism, some of which garnered press coverage, I emphasized the importance of single-payer healthcare for people with disabling, chronic health conditions, like myself.

Although the primaries ended in a loss for my candidate, my personal journey in politics was just beginning. Inspired by the state’s caucus system and my own involvement in the electoral process, I delved full-speed ahead into the healthcare justice movement. In October of 2016, I joined Health Care For All - WA, where I now sit on the Political Action Committee. I also volunteered for a year as Steering Committee President, Events Committee Chair, and served a stint on the Board of Directors for Whole Washington, a well-intentioned, but poorly executed Washington State initiative campaign, to ensure healthcare for every man, woman, and child - regardless of ability or disability.

Setting my Sights on Single Payer

The pinnacle of my political involvement came in January of 2018, when I testified before our state legislature’s health committee on Senate Bill 5701, which would have established a single-payer system in Washington State. Although I had only a minute to speak, I emphasized the bill’s positive impact on disabled people struggling to find insurance, and also recounted my personal story - one that included a private insurer’s chiding my family and me on a recorded line to go to the hospital, in lieu of covering my psychiatric medications on an outpatient basis.

Equally powerful, I elucidated the harrowing reality that the only reason I was alive was because my parents could afford to pay for the best doctors and most cutting-edge treatments when I was a young adult, without which I may well have succumbed to suicide. I was later told that the friendly overflow crowd gave me thunderous applause in the hall. This chance to offer my voice and experience as a disabled person in service of actual policy was transformative for me, and inspires my efforts to continue advocating for the crucial disability right of ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for all.

Voting and Values

With our next national election coming up quickly, I have had plenty of time to reflect on my political journey - from being raised by a liberal mom and a center-left dad, to becoming a young conservative, to ultimately arriving at progressivism in my late twenties. I realize that with different formative experiences, my beliefs and values would have been far different. Thus, even though advocating for a healthcare system abolishing private insurance companies culminates in my voting for left-leaning politicians, another person with a disability might see the same issue from a polar opposite perspective. As someone who values freedom of conscience, I would urge everyone to be true to his or her value system when voting - regardless of how the media frames the issues, regardless of how one’s family has voted in the past, and regardless of how one has cast ballots in earlier years. In short, I haven’t always voted for the same party or the same issues, and I see nothing wrong with changes in worldview as one evolves as a person and member of society.

As it stands, on November 6, 33 Senate seats, all 435 Congressional races, and a myriad of other local and national issues will be decided via the American electoral process. While I will be cheering for healthcare justice advocate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and voting for Berniecrat Sarah Smith in Washington’s ninth Congressional District, I urge you to take the advice of the Father of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Justin Dart, as you do your own research on which candidates and issues reflect and further your values. “Vote,” he said, “as if your life depends on it. Because it does.”

Each time we cast a ballot, we make a statement about how we believe our government and a just society should function, and about which candidates are the best to carry out these ideological commitments. It is all of our jobs as people with disabilities to ensure that government both reflects and acts upon our concerns, however diverse they may be. This election season, exercise your right to vote, urge your friends and family members to do the same, and may the candidates and initiatives best for disability issues prevail.

Leslie A. Zukor is a disability rights activist, who serves as First Vice Chair of the Washington State Democrats Disabilities Issues Caucus, and is the Secretary of the Washington State Political Items Collectors. She also is a member of Health Care For All - WA, and serves on its Political Action Committee. Holding a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from Reed College, Leslie transferred from Wellesley College and went to school in Oregon part-time for five years, before she earned her degree. Her interests include political history, photography, and collecting liberal, progressive, and Leftist political memorabilia. You may follow her on her personal Facebook page @facebook.com/lazukor.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

10/21/18 Twitter Chat on Voter Mobilization


Graphic with aqua blue background and an illustration of a checkmark in a box on the left and on the right is a box with the word 'VOTE' with a ballot inserted at the top. Text in black reads: #CripTheVote Twitter Chat, Voter Mobilization, October 21, 2018, 4 pm Pacific/ 5 pm Mountain/ 6 pm Central/ 7 pm Eastern, Guest hosts: @Sblahov and @SarahFunes, Details: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com
Graphic with aqua blue background and an illustration of a checkmark in a box on the left and on the right is a box with the word 'VOTE' with a ballot inserted at the top. Text in black reads: #CripTheVote Twitter Chat, Voter Mobilization, October 21, 2018, 4 pm Pacific/ 5 pm Mountain/ 6 pm Central/ 7 pm Eastern, Guest hosts: @Sblahov and @SarahFunes, Details: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com

#CripTheVote Chat: Voter Mobilization
October 21, 2018
4 pm Pacific, 5 pm Mountain, 6 pm Central, 7 pm Eastern
Guest hosts: Sarah Blahovec and Sarah Funes

Election Day is in 2 weeks away and #CripTheVote is thrilled to have guest hosts Sarah Blahovec and Sarah Funes, two disability activists involved with community organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts for the disability community, join us for a discussion on voter outreach and mobilization.

How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang @DisVisibility @SarahFunes. When it’s time for the chat, search #CripTheVote on Twitter for the series of live tweets under the ‘Latest’ tab for the full conversation.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can follow along in real time here: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote

If you might be overwhelmed by the amount of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @DisVisibility’s account. The questions will be Tweeted 5-6 minutes apart.

Another way to participate in the chat is to use this app that allows you to pause the chat if the Tweets are coming at you too fast: http://www.tchat.io/

Here’s an article about how to participate in a Twitter chat: https://www.adweek.com/digital/how-to-join-a-twitter-hashtag-chat/

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc https://www.facebook.com/HEARDDC/videos/1181213075257528/

Introductory Tweets and Chat Questions

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on voter mobilization and outreach with guest hosts @Sblahov & @SarahFunes! We look forward to hearing about what is happening your community.

Remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet. If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote”

Q1 Please introduce yourself and share any thoughts about #Midterms2018 as Election Day approaches in 2 weeks. #CripTheVote

Q2 There are many different campaigns focused on getting out the vote. Why is voter participation important, especially for the disability community? If you are a student on campus, what’s your experience like registering to vote? #CripTheVote

Q3 What have you seen regarding voter outreach and engagement that is particularly good in terms of accessibility & being inclusive of people with disabilities (PWDs)? How can voter outreach of PWDs improve?  #CripTheVote

Q4 What are some unique policy, structural, and social barriers people in the disability community face when it comes to voter turnout? What changes need to happen at the local and state level to improve the situation? Are you aware there are Voter Advisory Committees at the state and county level? If not will you consider applying for yours? #CripTheVote

Q5 What are some other strategies or ideas on how to mobilize reluctant, uninterested, apolitical, or cynical people from voting, especially from the disability community? #CripTheVote

Q6 Slowly, the public is realizing that the disability vote is a significant voting bloc. What are some current issues that you think will mobilize voters with disabilities during #Midterms2018? #CripTheVote 

Q7 What are the risks and rewards of seeing the disability community, an incredibly diverse population, as a single voting bloc? How can we effectively ‘flex’ our power? #CripTheVote

Q8 What are you going to do to encourage people to vote? What are some opportunities available for you to volunteer or participate in your county and state or online? #CripTheVote

This concludes our #CripTheVote chat on voter mobilization and outreach! Thank you to everyone for joining us today, especially our guest hosts @Sblahov & @SarahFunes. 

Live Tweet Election Day results with us on 11/6: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-cripthevote-events_12.html

Keep the conversation going! A recap of this #CripTheVote chat will be up shortly. Check out our blog for the latest: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 1, 2018

10/7/18 #CripTheVote Chat - Midterms 2018: What’s At Stake


#CripTheVote Chat - Midterms 2018: What’s At Stake
October 7, 2018
4 pm Pacific, 5 pm Mountain, 6 pm Central, 7 pm Eastern

The 2018 Midterm Elections are just about a month away. In this chat, we will take a look at what is at stake for the disability community this year.

Background Links

“In recent elections, about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections.” -- Voter Turnout, FairVote.com https://www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101

Ballotpedia’s Election Analysis Hub, 2018 https://ballotpedia.org/Ballotpedia%27s_Election_Analysis_Hub,_2018



How to Participate

Follow @GreggBeratan @AndrewPulrang @DisVisibility. When it’s time for the chat, search #CripTheVote on Twitter for the series of live tweets under the ‘Latest’ tab for the full conversation.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can follow along in real time here: http://twubs.com/CripTheVote

If you might be overwhelmed by the amount of tweets and only want to see the chat’s questions so you can respond to them, check @DisVisibility’s account. The questions will be Tweeted 5-6 minutes apart.

Another way to participate in the chat is to use this app that allows you to pause the chat if the Tweets are coming at you too fast: http://www.tchat.io/

Here’s an article about how to participate in a Twitter chat: https://www.adweek.com/digital/how-to-join-a-twitter-hashtag-chat/

Check out this captioned ASL explanation of how to participate in a chat by @behearddc https://www.facebook.com/HEARDDC/videos/1181213075257528/

Introductory Tweets and Chat Questions

Welcome to the #CripTheVote chat on what’s at stake in the 2018 Midterm Elections. We look forward to finding out what’s important to you, and exploring different possible futures in a post-Midterms world.

Remember to use the #CripTheVote hashtag when you tweet. If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #CripTheVote”


Q1: Sooooooo, it’s been some week. Before we start talking about the midterms, how are you doing since yesterday’s confirmation of Kavanaugh? How are you processing everything and taking care of yourself? #CripTheVote

Q2: How much have you followed and / or participated in past midterm elections? #CripTheVote

Q3: Why do you think voter participation tends to be lower in midterm elections? Have you been more, or less active this year? #CripTheVote

Q4: Name three disability-related issues that are at the top of your mind right now. #CripTheVote

Q5: What are some disability issues in your state and local area that could be affected by the outcome of #Midterms2018? #CripTheVote

Q6: What specific, pressing disability issues nationally “hang in the balance” based on what happens in the Midterm Elections? #CripTheVote

Q7: How do you think disability policy and activism would change if the House and / or the Senate flipped from Republican to Democratic control? #CripTheVote

Q8: What will happen in the next two years or so if control in the House and Senate stay basically the same after #Midterms2018? #CripTheVote

Q9: What can we do to better inform candidates and disabled voters of what’s at stake in the 2018 Midterm Election? #CripTheVote

This concludes our #CripTheVote chat on Midterm Elections! Join us 10/21/18 for our next chat on voter mobilization w/ guest hosts @Sblahov & @SarahFunes: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-cripthevote-events_12.html

Keep the conversation going! A recap of this #CripTheVote chat will be up shortly. Check out our blog for the latest: http://cripthevote.blogspot.com/