Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswomen Madeleine Dean (PA-04) and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) introduced a package of legislation to make American democracy more accessible for people with disabilities. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced companion bills in the Senate. Three bills will address accessibility issues in registering to vote, getting to the polls, running for public office, and serving in local government.

The Removing Access Barriers to Running for Elected Office for People with Disabilities Act would ensure people with disabilities do not lose their crucial, life-sustaining federal disability benefits when they campaign for elected office. Specifically, the bill would clarify to federal agencies administering disability benefits that campaigning for an elected office does not disqualify a person from receiving disability benefits.

The AID (Accessibility and Inclusion to Diversify) Local Government Leadership Act would provide local governments with an ongoing accommodations fund to ensure current and future elected officials with disabilities have access to needed accommodations to perform their duties. Eligible communities include those that are rural communities, have a population of less than 10,000 people or are communities with a population between 10,000 and 200,000 with a federal poverty rate of 18 percent or higher.

The Accessible Voting Act, also co-led by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), would support state and local efforts to improve voter accessibility and remove barriers to voting. Specifically, the bill would establish new programs for ensuring voting accessibility, including creating a national resource center on accessible voting and expanding the number of options for casting a ballot in federal elections. 

“The ability to fully participate in our democracy is central to our American ideals—yet too often people with disabilities face unnecessary barriers to voting and public service,” Rep. Dean said. “This package of legislation will help ensure accessibility in registering to vote, getting to the polls, running for office, and serving in local government. By breaking down these barriers, our communities can be better represented by every voice. I'm thankful to partner with Congresswoman Scanlon, as well as Senators Casey and Klobuchar, to pass these important bills.”

“Full participation in government is the bedrock of our democracy, but too often, Americans with disabilities face unnecessary barriers to accessing the ballot box, running for office, and serving in local government,” Rep. Scanlon said. “I'm proud to join Reps. Dean and Raskin and Senators Casey and Klobuchar in introducing this suite of legislation that takes important steps to support people with disabilities, including many seniors and veterans, by addressing systemic inaccessibility across all aspects of civic life.”

“Our democracy is stronger and better off when every American has the opportunity to fully participate. Yet for many people with disabilities, barriers remain to voting, running for office, and serving in local government,” Senator Casey said. “This new suite of legislation will help tear down those barriers and ensure that people with disabilities are no longer disproportionately excluded from American democracy.”

“Accessible voting makes the right to vote real for millions of seniors and Americans with disabilities who face barriers to the ballot,” Rep. Raskin said. “Bolstering accessibility and legal protection, the Accessible Voting Act will strengthen democracy and ensure that no eligible voter gets left behind at the ballot box. I’m grateful to Congresswoman Scanlon and Senator Casey for their partnership on this urgent democratic imperative.”

The three bills are endorsed by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, National Association of the Deaf, National Council on Independent Living, National Disability Rights Network, The Arc of the United States, United Spinal Association, Epilepsy Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Diverse Elders Coalition, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Blinded Veterans Association, National Disability Institute, Disability Victory, New Disabled South, National Coalition on Accessible Voting, and Progressive Turnout Project.


Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.