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Protest Held Against Prominent Pollster

Two national organizations held a protest on April 14, 2011 against one of America's most prominent pollsters. The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) is demanding that the Pew Research Center stop discriminating against individuals with disabilities when they conduct polls.

Both organizations have repeatedly sent requests to Pew to include disability statistics in their polling. According to NCIL and ACB, the requests have been rejected each time. NCIL received an email response from Pew indicating that they have no interest in including disability data in their polling.

According to NCIL, Pew refuses to meet with disability advocates in its organization to discuss the reasons persons with disabilities should be included in polling.

"I cannot believe that they would refuse to talk to us about this," said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of NCIL. According to the Mellman Group, the disability vote is nearly as much as the African-American vote, 50 percent larger than the Latino vote, and many times more than the Jewish vote. According to the Census, 14.7 million people with disabilities voted in the last presidential election despite inaccessible conditions at over a quarter of the nation's polling places. Furthermore, people with disabilities are a major swing voting bloc, voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 election and Barack Obama in the 2008 election. According to NCIL, the disability community is furious over the decision to dismiss inclusion in polling, and views the move as blatant discrimination.

According to NCIL, this issue has raised serious questions about how the Pew Research Center can adequately "inform the national dialogue" without consistently including this significant section of the American population in their polls. NCIL believes that because of the lack of available polling data, major news outlets have overlooked the significant power of the disability vote, and have not considered fully the influence that the disability community has on shaping policy issues like healthcare, employment, and education. "We are tired of being treated as if we do not exist," said Richard Sims, Executive Director of the DC Center for Independent Living. "If the polls and national media are not addressing the impact of this constituency during major elections and policy debates, political analyses cannot be comprehensive and will lack credibility."

Source: National Council on Independent Living; American Council of the Blind

Published May 10, 2011

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