Today, as Texas Republicans are advancing SB 7, legislation that directly targets disabled voters, Fair Fight Action launched a Disability Council made up of a diverse group of disability advocates. Members include Fair Fight Action’s Dom Kelly, former Congressman Tony Coelho, Sarah Blahovec, Emily Blum, Patrick Cokley, Matthew Cortland, Colleen Flanagan, Jules Good, Claudia Gordon, Mia Ives-Rublee, Ted Jackson, Emily Ladau, Andraéa LaVant, Vilissa Thompson, Zan Thornton, Gaylon Tootle, and Tiffany Yu.
That’s a great roster of disability advocates. So glad to see Fair Fight including us and fighting with us to #CripTheVote.
As for what Texas Republicans are up to this time…
Further, the legislation allows partisan poll watchers to film voters who require assistance at the polls if the watcher “reasonably believes” that the assistance is unlawful, forcing disabled people to defend themselves from harmful accusations and compromising their right to privacy.
Ableist, gross, and nerve-racking. Disability policing is already frustrating and demoralizing enough. I already worry about having to defend my disability status when a poll worker escorts me and my rollator forward (on those wonderful occasions when there’s a poll worker monitoring the queue). We’re filmed for disability policing, and we’re filmed for inspiration. It’s exhausting.
These proposals in SB 7 invade the privacy of disabled voters, forcing them to provide private and deeply personal medical information in order to be able to vote with assistance.
“Moar paperwork!” says the Republican penchant for government-mandated forced intimacy.
Forced intimacy is the continuous submission to patient hoodrequired to access the right to learn, work, and live differently. K-12 SpEd families, higher ed students, and workers needing accommodations regularly experience forced intimacy. Forced intimacy “chips away at your soul. Every box you tick, every sentence about your ‘impairment’ and ‘needs’ becomes part of the narrative of your identity.”
“Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions.” “Forced intimacy is the opposite of access intimacy.” “Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else ‘gets’ your access needs.“
Forced intimacy in the form of more paperwork requiring intimate details. Forced intimacy in the form of vigilantes filming us vote. Ableism and inaccessibility as a result. A Big Lie of fraud as justification.
Texas Republicans consistently insert themselves into our lives and care, imposing a continuous permitting process on our existence and encouraging vigilante permit policing.
Donate to Fair Fight, and vote against Republicans.
Ableist discrimination and bigotry materialize in countless ways, but talk to anyone whose disability isn’t immediately obvious and this kind of story pops up again and again. Encounters turn bad because a random individual-sometimes in a position of official authority, other times just a meddling onlooker-decides someone is getting away with something. They cry “fraud.” They demand proof. They seek to restore order. Such incidents often result in humiliation or forced disclosure. Worse, as in Minnesota, they can spark violence and trauma.
Thousands joined the thread to share their experiences: Anyone who uses accessible parking but who doesn’t look sufficiently disabled or who only uses their wheelchair sometimes has encountered the “Good Samaritan” stranger who demands that they prove their disability. It happens a lot in parking lots, because accessible parking spaces are hotly contested proving-grounds for disability.
We need to learn to expect disability. There’s no one way to look or be disabled. When someone asks for an accommodation, believe them. If someone is behaving in an atypical way, pause to reflect whether there might be a disability-related reason. Or just lighten up. Humans are diverse. We do things in our own unique ways.