Abstract

Despite a strong societal commitment to ensuring that individuals with intellectual disability (ID) fully participate in their communities, few people with ID vote. Little is known about voting experiences from the perspective of people with ID. In-person, semistructured interviews were conducted with 28 adults with ID (Mage = 37 years) to obtain their input on voting. Constant comparison and content analysis methods were used to characterize themes. Results indicated that people with ID are interested in voting and desire to be included in the voting process yet receive little education on political issues or on how to make voting-related decisions. Support from family or service providers and self-advocacy facilitated their ability to vote. Implications of these findings and recommendations for future research are discussed.

The ultimate purpose of adult services is to support people with intellectual disability (ID) as they endeavor to be full participants in their communities (Wehman & Kregel, 2012). Based on an individual's interests and preferences, it is the service provider's responsibility to identify activities (and their requisite skills) of interest to consumers, assess their performance of these skills, teach skills that may be lacking, and provide support as needed across opportunities.

Services provided to people with ID typically include employment, residential living, purchasing, health care, recreation, financial management, postsecondary education, and self-determination (Alwell & Cobb, 2009). It is generally assumed that these activities, individually or in combination, contribute to one's quality of life and life satisfaction (Hughes & Hwang, 1996). Much, if not all, of service programs and related skill development is dedicated to increasing consumers' participation in and satisfaction derived from engaging in the aforementioned activity domains.

Ironically, one area (and responsibility) often neglected from service provision for people with ID is citizenship, specifically, voting (Agran & Hughes, 2013; Jordan & Dunlap, 2001; Schriner & Ochs, 2000). Although all citizens are guaranteed the right to vote—voting as a federal right cannot be denied to anyone (with the exception of felony disenfranchisement)—available data suggest that less than half of adults with disabilities vote (i.e., 19% of population; National Council on Disability, 2011). With regard to people with ID, studies conducted in the United Kingdom reveal voter turnout that is substantially below the general population (as much as 40%; Emerson, Malam, Davis, & Spencer, 2005; Keeley, Redley, Holland, & Clare, 2008). For example, Emerson et al. (2005) indicated that in a general election in 2001, 31% of adults with ID reported that they voted compared to 72% of the general population. Keeley et al. (2008) reported that 26% of individuals with ID actually voted compared to 64% of the general population. However, there is limited research available on voter participation among individuals with ID in the United States. In one study, a sample of surveyed service providers and support personnel reported that few of their clients voted, were registered to vote, or were interested in voting (Agran & Hughes, 2013).

A number of barriers may impede an individual's desire or ability to vote (Schriner, Ochs, & Shields, 2000), including (a) barriers related to accessibility, (b) lack of accommodations in polling places, (c) educational and informational deficits, and (d) lack of service provider interest. First, Ward, Baker, and Moon (2009) and King and Ebraham (2007) indicated that many polling places are inaccessible, and election officials have little or no knowledge of how to accommodate people with ID. Election officials may be reluctant to allow an individual to receive support from a provider at a polling station if there is suspicion that a vote is being manipulated or the person does not understand the voting process (Holland, Clare, Redley, & Keeling, 2011); such a situation may become further complicated if the voter is nonverbal or communication-challenged (Schriner et al., 2000). For example, according to federal law, a voter can ask for assistance if he or she has trouble reading ballots or in marking the ballot; however, state election officials may be reluctant or lack knowledge as to how to provide such support to people with ID (King & Ebraham, 2007). Likewise, if an individual with an ID does not know (or does not feel comfortable with) a support person helping him or her to vote, he or she may opt out of voting.

Second, many people with ID remain uninformed about political issues, and few accessible election materials tailored to meet the needs of this population are available to familiarize and inform them about pertinent political issues (King & Ebraham, 2007). Additionally, surveys of service providers and other stakeholders have shown that voting instruction is generally not provided to individuals with ID or included in service plans (Agran & Hughes, 2013; Agran, MacLean, & Kitchen Andren, 2015). A further deterrent to voting is that individuals with ID may come from families who do not vote and thus are more likely not to vote themselves (Keeley et al., 2008).

Finally, service providers may have little interest in teaching clients how to vote (Bell, McKay, & Phillips, 2001). Such reluctance may be due to the fact that they assume voting is not an important need since few consumers and/or their parents or guardians have expressed an interest in voting, which is often the case (Agran & Hughes, 2013). Support personnel may never have delivered such instruction and do not know which instructional materials to use and in what context instruction should be delivered. Also, service providers may believe that such instruction would be of limited value because many individuals with ID cannot understand political issues or positions (Bell et al., 2001; Lanning, 2008; Redley, 2008).

Although not an explicit requirement for voter registration, an inherent assumption of the voting process is that voters are capable of making informed decisions about political issues and understanding the consequences of their decisions. Although intelligence tests are not required for voter registration, and literacy tests are no longer allowed (Schriner et al., 2000), a presumption is made that voters are “legally competent” (i.e., they understand what voting means and the issues or qualifications of candidates being debated) and are able to indicate their positions or opinions about political issues or candidates. However, for people with ID, this confidence is often not presumed and, in fact, the opposite may be true—they are presumed to be “legally incompetent” because of their disability (Bell et al., 2001; Schriner et al., 2000). To the aforementioned point, Blood (2014) reported that some judges in Los Angeles Superior Court continue to use literacy tests to determine legal capacity, even though the use of such tests is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. Presumed incompetence may continue to be perceived by service providers, educators, parents, and election officials, despite the appreciable research demonstrating that, with systematic instruction, people with ID can make decisions, engage in basic problem solving, and evaluate the consequences of their decisions (Wehmeyer et al., 2007). As Wappett (2002) noted, decision-making and evaluation skills are considered essential components of self-determination and, by extension, of voting.

Historically, individuals with ID have been considered incapable of making the reasonable judgments necessary for making political judgments and are best served by other individuals (e.g., parents/guardians, service providers) who could make decisions on their behalf (Schriner & Ochs, 2000). Indeed, as Jameson et al. (2015) noted, assumptions about the lack of decision-making capacity of individuals with ID are based on “age-old and often discredited ideological stigmas associated with people with disabilities” (p. 47). However, these biases contradict the current focus on enhancing the self-determination of individuals with ID so that they can in fact express their opinions and advocate for their needs and wishes across varied situations, which, in the present case, includes the voting booth.

Two other factors have exacerbated the low rate of voting among people with ID. First, a number of individuals with ID are appointed guardians (conservatorship) on either a full or partial basis. This may result in a loss of a person's civil rights, specifically, voting. Although several states have made efforts to reform guardianship statutes so that civil rights are not summarily dismissed, such practices remain uneven and in many cases, deficient (National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making, 2011).

Second, in most states there are provisions to deny the right to vote for people with ID with severe levels of impairment. These prohibitions are found in state constitutions and are designed to prevent voter fraud and “protect the validity of the voting process” (Blood, 2014, p. 2). Specifically, in these states voting can be denied to people adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or incapacitated. Disability rights advocates contend that such provisions represent nothing more than a state's willful violation of citizens' constitutional rights (Agran & Hughes, 2013).

Of particular relevance to this controversy are the rights guaranteed under Articles 12 and 29 of the Convention of the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted by the United Nations in 2007 (UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Resolution/adopted by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007). Article 12 of the CRPD obligates countries (states) to ensure that individuals with ID exercise their full legal capacity while Article 29 guarantees equality of political rights including the right to vote and stand for election. Rather than deny individuals with ID the right to make decisions at critical “entry points” (e.g., decisions that impact health status, community living), committed efforts must be made to ensure that such decisions are entitled to legal recognition (Note: Although the United States has signed the CRPD, the Article has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Senate). International attention, as evidenced in Articles 12 and 29, underscore the importance of ensuring that the civil rights of people with ID are recognized and supported.

Given the limited attention to voting among people with ID, it is not surprising that research about this topic is limited. Interestingly, most of the current research on voting is from the perspective of scholars and attorneys, with little input provided by individuals with disabilities—the people who are directly impacted by this situation. Wappett (2002) has argued that the low turnout of voters with ID is due in part to a lack of leadership among disability organizations. Wappett suggested that most of these organizations are composed of and led by nondisabled individuals. Nondisabled leaders may have some understanding about the right to vote but have no direct experience themselves either being denied the opportunity to vote or dealing with other restrictions people with ID may experience with voting.

To our knowledge, only one study has sought to obtain input from people with ID about their voting (or lack of) experiences (see Kjellberg & Hemmingsson, 2013). Instead, much of the research related to voting has been comprised of legal examinations or position papers, which lack objective and evidence-based analyses. Kjellberg and Hemmingsson interviewed 20 adults with ID (13 female, 7 male) after each of three general elections. Results revealed that five individuals had voted in all three elections, eight had voted inconsistently, and seven had not voted. Members of the group who had voted indicated that voting is important for everyone and that he or she had the opportunity to discuss political issues with family members or resource personnel. Further, all who participated in voting indicated they knew how to vote. Those who did not vote said they lacked the interest, support, or understanding.

To address the apparent gap in the literature involving a lack of input from adults with ID, the present study sought to obtain input from a sample of people with ID, served by different support programs, regarding their interest in voting, experiences learning how to vote, and engagement in the voting process. Specifically, the study was a descriptive pilot study in the form of interviews about voting among people with ID, on which future studies can be based.

Methods

Design

Semistructured, individual interviews were conducted among adults with ID to gain an understanding of perspectives on and experiences related to voting in political elections, as well as the influences on their voting practices. Qualitative interviews were selected to facilitate data collection with adults with ID, who often have difficulty responding to self-report measures without significant levels of preparation (Hartley & MacLean, 2006).

Participants

Convenience sampling was conducted to recruit participants, which involves integrating new opportunities or following new leads, during the data collection process (Patton, 1990). Interviewees resided in the Rocky Mountain Western region of the United States and were at least 18 years of age or older, diagnosed with an ID, and willing and able to provide informed consent or provided assent with guardian informed consent. Diagnosis of ID was confirmed by the referring agencies or parents/guardians. Although severity of ID was not confirmed by the researchers, referring agencies selected only higher functioning adults with ID for participation.

Procedures

Study participants were recruited through multiple methods, including distribution of flyers and electronic advertisements among staff of two regional community service agencies in the Rocky Mountain area. The primary investigators obtained written verification from all participating organizations confirming their willingness to assist with recruitment. Interviews were conducted between November 2013 and May 2014 (in the absence of an imminent election) at either a local provider of disability services center or at a Special Olympics Summer Games event. Interested individuals or their guardians or caretakers who learned about the study through the flyer advertisement called a telephone number located on the flyer to learn more about the study. Next, an interview date, time, and location were scheduled for those who remained interested in completing an individual interview. All participants who initially indicated interest completed an interview, with the exception of one individual who was unable to be reached by telephone to schedule an interview.

At the beginning of each face-to-face interview session, the study was re-explained to interviewees and, if requested, to their support personnel. All questions from the interviewees or their support personnel were answered by the researcher before signing the consent. Interviewees were required to give informed consent prior to initiating the interview. To determine the extent to which participants understood the relevant study information, the interviewer asked participants questions about the purpose of the study and what would be required of their participation, similar questions used in previous work with individuals with ID (Horner-Johnson & Bailey, 2013). Specifically, the interviewees were asked to tell in their own words what the study was about, their role in the study, the risks of participating in the study, their understanding of the terms voluntary and confidential, and what they could do if they didn't want to finish the interview. In some cases, a guardian provided informed consent for the participant, and the participant gave his or her assent. Although support personnel were nearby for the comfort of the participant, interviews were conducted independently without support personnel listening. Interviewees provided their age and gender in a brief demographic questionnaire.

All interviews were conducted by the same researcher, who was trained in conducting semistructured interviews. Interviews included a guide developed by a team of researchers (i.e., the authors of this study) with experience working with individuals with ID—consistent with Sigstad's (2014) recommendations for conducting qualitative interviews with persons with ID. The following questions were used during interviews, along with necessary probes and follow-up questions: (a) What do you know about voting? (b) What experiences have you had with voting? (c) Tell me about any preparation or education you have received about voting? (d) Has anything ever stopped you from voting or made it hard for you to vote? and (e) What do you think would help you to vote? Although these questions served as a guide, interviews were open-ended, and interviewees were encouraged to elaborate on specific topics or to bring up new topics. The interviewer recorded responses verbatim by hand during the interviews. Interviews were brief, lasting approximately 15 minutes. We conducted interviews until data saturation was reached between interviews (i.e., new information produced little or no change to the thematic analysis; Kerr, Nixon, & Wild, 2010). The present study was approved by the University Institutional Review Board as one involving no more than minimal risk to participants.

Data Analysis

A thematic analysis was conducted using constant comparison (Glaser, 1978; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and content analysis (Barcus, 1959) methods to form the coding framework, and qualitative data analysis software (i.e., NVivo 10 Software [2012]) was used to carry out data analysis. The goal of constant comparison analysis is to systematically reduce data into codes and then to develop themes from the codes. Content analysis methods were also employed to quantitatively describe how frequently select categories of themes were cited throughout the data as well as sensitize researchers to general patterns in the data.

To begin, handwritten notes from the interviews were transcribed into an electronic format and uploaded into NVivo. Coding/analysis occurred over three stages (i.e., open coding, axial coding, selective coding). During the open-coding stage, transcripts were reviewed and marked where segments or quotes corresponded to different overarching topics/questions, such as experience with voting, barriers to voting, and voting-related education/training received. During the second stage, axial coding, text segments underwent in-depth analysis within or across topics. Specific codes (e.g., importance of voting, barriers, facilitators) and subcodes (e.g., to be counted or included, lack of support, instruction, education) that corresponded to interview questions were created, along with additional codes for topics that arose and were of special interest. In the final stage of analysis, selective coding, codes were organized into overarching themes.

Results

Twenty-eight adults with ID who resided in a predominately rural, Rocky Mountain state completed the interviews. Interviewees ranged from ages 20 to 68 years (M = 37.43, SD = 10.96), with just over half of the interviewees female (57%). Interviews broadly investigated voting-related perceptions, knowledge, preparation/education, and experiences, as well as barriers and facilitators to voting. Three major themes emerged, including: (a) “My voice counts, too”; (b) “What I know, and what I want to learn”; and (c) Encourage, support, and assist. These themes were based on comments and reflections that the participants shared that could be grouped. The findings are organized around these three themes. (Note: Interviewees are identified below with pseudonyms to maintain confidentiality).

“My Voice Counts, Too”

Interviewees discussed the degree to which they believe they should participate in the voting process. The majority of interviewees (n = 23, 82%) agreed that it is important for them to practice voting. Although some interviewees indicated a general interest in voting, others discussed specific reasons why they would like to vote, including the desire to be counted or included, make a difference, and fulfill a duty of U.S. citizenship. Only two individuals stated that voting is not important to them, and two other interviewees were unsure as to whether it is important for them to vote.

Eight interviewees indicated that, even though they have an ID, they have the right to be included in the voting process like everyone else and have their voices heard. Sally, who was in her mid-thirties and had never voted in a political election, stated, “I know people who vote. They seem to be happy.” Another woman in her early thirties, Carol, who had also never voted, affirmed her belief that voting is important, “With us people with intellectual disability, I think our voice counts, too.” Likewise, a man in his early thirties, Samuel, who reported that he voted four times in the past, stated “Even though we have disability, we're still important. We're still people.” Almost half of the interviewees (n = 14) described the importance of being counted or included in order to make a positive difference for the country and U.S. citizens. As Justin noted, “It's good to vote so our voice is heard and we can make decisions.” Some interviewees mentioned the importance of electing officials who would best serve the country. Mary, who was in her early forties, indicated that she began voting at age 23 and currently votes on a regular basis. She stated that it is important “that someone is going to go into office and fight for rights. Oh, I do, I vote. To put people in that would benefit the people.” In particular, several interviewees described the importance of electing government officials who support assistance for people with disabilities and/or people with financial needs:

“It's important to choose good government…ones that like support Special Olympics…I want to vote in the future so I can pick who I want to win. Democrats is for low income people. Democrats help people with disabilities and lower income people who can't afford things.” (Jack)

“Part of my duty as an American Citizen so I help get people elected that care about the poor. Do something about it…if it's a person I don't like by voting them out of office.” (Lindsey)

Last, self-advocacy and initiative were described by 13 interviewees (46% of the sample) as key facilitators to voting. In terms of intrinsic interest in voting, interviewees stated that they desired to vote because they like to be involved and to participate with others, or that they wanted to make a difference (e.g., elect a new president). Interviewees who observed or learned of others voting, such as seeing people wear stickers indicating voting participation, described being motivated to vote themselves. Some interviewees requested the help of their guardians or supportive staff or indicated that doing so in the future might help them be able to vote. As noted by Mary, “Don't be afraid to ask for help.” A woman in her late sixties, Dorothy, described being particularly passionate about voting and recalled when she first desired to vote, “I told my mother I wanted to vote when JFK was running, but she said I wasn't old enough. I started voting in 1964.”

“What I Know and What I Want to Learn”

Most interviewees were aware of some types of government officials, especially the President of the United States. They also acknowledged that some individuals vote whereas others do not. A small number of individuals discussed issues, bills, or amendments for which people can vote. Very little was expressed by interviewees about more abstract aspects of politics and the voting process. A typical response reflecting knowledge of voting was similar to Carol's response, “Like, if there's a Presidential vote, there will be like two different people going for President, and people go in and vote. Who's ever good, who gets the most votes—they get to be president, or governor, or senator, or mayor.”

Over half of the sample (n = 17, 61%) indicated that they have received some form of preparation or education related to voting. The education described, however, did not always pertain to voting for political issues or candidates. Some were taught about the concept of voting through examples, such as voting for ice cream flavors. Regarding the content of their voting-related education, most interviewees indicated that their previous instruction focused on assistance with technical aspects of voting as opposed to material about the political process or particular issues/candidates. For instance, interviewees recalled being taught how to use an electronic voting machine or how to complete paper ballots.

Among the 10 participants who discussed education they would like to receive in order to participate, or more meaningfully participate, in the voting process, 5 individuals voiced a desire to learn about political candidates running for office, including their histories and attitudes, as well as the nature of the office for which they were running. Twenty-four interviewees specified who they would like to teach them about voting. Staff or agency service providers were the most commonly preferred individuals, as mentioned by 11 interviewees.

Some interviewees who had prior experience with voting discussed the challenges they encountered. Although interviewees were more certain about who they wanted to vote for in previous Presidential elections, they experienced confusion related to other candidates and issues on which they were asked to vote.

“My experience with voting…not knowing which person to pick.” (Jessica)

“My teacher never taught me how to vote when I was in high school. I want to, but if I'm never taught it's kind of hard.” (Sally)

“Some of the stuff I vote for I don't know much about.” (Scott)

“It was hard. I didn't know which one to choose.” (Ashley)

“There's times when I don't know [how to vote]…police commissioners or school.” (Mary)

Most interviewees did not discuss how they make voting-related decisions, and those who did greatly varied in the methods they use to select candidates or make voting-related decisions. At the most surface level, two interviewees stated that they select candidates based on arbitrary feelings or the candidates' physical appearance. For instance, Dorothy described the enjoyment that she experiences as a result of participating in the voting process and also stated, “I just pick the one I like the most…the way they look and the way they talk. The way they smile on the television.” Others, however, indicated that they make more informed decisions when voting. Among those who described how they decide on a candidate when voting, five out of seven reported that they try to learn about particular candidates or issues by reading, watching television, or talking with support personnel/service providers or parents/guardians.

Encourage, Support, and Assist

Encouragement, support, and assistance from agencies, service providers, and family and friends were described by interviewees (n = 22, 79%) as key facilitators to voting. Some interviewees indicated that their parents helped them develop an understanding of voting by taking them to polling places during elections when they were children and later encouraged them to vote as an adult. A man in his early thirties, who reported that he has voted in every election since turning 18, indicated that he has always visited polling places and voted with his family members. Anna, who was in her mid-thirties, noted that her parents strongly influenced her participation in voting, “My parents encouraged me. ‘Things won't get done if you don't vote. Can't complain if you don't vote.'”

Interviewees also reported that agency staff members and services providers provided considerable support by asking them if they wanted to vote, helping them complete voter registration paperwork, encouraging them when they feel uncertain or nervous about voting, and providing transportation to polling places. Assistance with understanding voting-related material and information about political candidates was highlighted as being particularly helpful to interviewees. Facilitating understanding was accomplished by talking about issues relevant to voting and particular political candidates, as well as reading information out loud to interviewees.

“I get kind of nervous, but they helped us. One didn't make sense to me. He helped me get that…it was about whether something should be built.” (Kathy)

“First it was really hard because you didn't know how to do it. But when people there show me and not just explain it, it's easier for me. I do a lot better when they do that.” (Mary)

“If people sat down with me and discussed it to me. What they're [the candidate] is trying to run for.” (Scott)

In contrast, some interviewees indicated that they have been prevented from voting by their parents/guardians or may not be provided with adequate support to vote (e.g., reminders or transportation). Julie, for instance, described a lack of permission to vote, “The problem with voting is my parents won't let me vote. They don't either [participate in voting], so they don't like voting. They think I should do the same.”

Discussion

Previous research about voting for people with ID has focused primarily on the various barriers from the perspectives as understood by advocates, attorneys, scholars, and direct care providers (Agran & Hughes, 2013). In the present study, adults with ID participated in semistructured interviews designed to elucidate their experience related to voting. The participants' interview responses were analyzed using well-established qualitative research methods. This process yielded three major themes related to voting participation.

The majority of the participants felt that it was important for them to vote. Many participants viewed voting as a right—just as it is for any other citizen. Some participants acknowledged having an ID, but they did not see this diagnosis as a reason to be excluded from voting. They viewed their votes as important in helping select the very best candidate for the elected position. They appreciated encouragement, support, and assistance in the voting process—a finding reported in previous studies (Keeley et al., 2008; Kjellberg & Hemmingsson, 2013). Like many people in the general population, they described having difficulty selecting the best candidate. The participants found presidential elections the easiest to select a favored candidate whereas other voting opportunities (e.g., local elections) were described as confusing. The participants' responses often suggested that their selections were based on arbitrary criteria in the absence of a firm understanding of which candidates' views were more consistent with their own.

Although over half of the sample reported that they had received some form of preparation or education related to voting, the focus of this preparation was generally on the technical aspects of voting and not how to weigh the positions of various candidates on issues of particular importance to them. The degree to which inadequate preparation is a barrier to voting participation among people with ID is not known. However, given that every vote counts and many highly contested elections are decided by a relatively small number of votes, there is both a need and opportunity to develop methods to increase accessibility of political platforms and candidate perspectives.

Although there are no generally agreed upon techniques or strategies to support voting among individuals with ID, our findings support the view that personal relationships are associated with voting participation by people with ID (Keeley et al., 2008; Kjellberg & Hemmingsson, 2013). Keeley et al. (2008) reported that adults living in supported accommodation were 11 times more likely to have voted if their living setting included at least one other voter. Similar results were reported by Kjellberg and Hemmingsson (2013) in their longitudinal study of voting in Sweden. Our findings suggest that encouragement, support, and assistance are important aspects of these interactions.

A clear strength of the present study was the inclusion of persons with ID in the research process as opposed to relying on proxy informants (Sigstad, 2014). Like many important issues that confront persons with ID, data concerning the lived experience—whether related to health, community living, voting, or employment—are essential to a valid understanding of those issues (Fujiura & the RRTC Expert Panel on Health Measurement, 2012). As a first effort related to investigating participation in voting and limitations in sample size and geographic location, future research could be conducted with larger groups of people from more than one state and from culturally diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic status—a limitation of the present study. Further, it would be of value to analyze the data relative to gender and severity of ID to determine if there is any differentiation in voting instruction. Similarly, more extensive studies could be developed, perhaps with input from persons with ID, to provide greater insight into how voting preparation and education could be improved. Many of the participants in this study expressed dissatisfaction with current approaches. These efforts might yield approaches suitable for other populations with conditions that affect cognitive processing, such as adults with traumatic brain injury or dementia (Appelbaum, Bonnie, & Karlawish, 2005).

One of the limitations of this study is that, like all studies involving interviews, the information collected were those of self-reports, with no opportunity to verify the accuracy of the information provided or conduct member checking. Future research in which input is obtained from a variety of stakeholders (e.g., parents/guardians, election officials) would be of value. Also, only one researcher, with extensive experience analyzing qualitative data, coded the interview transcripts; thus, interrater reliability was not obtained. Additionally, since a convenience sample was used, there was no attempt to ensure participant representation relative to gender, ethnicity, severity of ID, socioeconomic, or cultural and linguistic background. These differences may shape responses, and future research is needed to better understand their influence on survey responses.

Finally, we recognize that the 15-minute interview time was admittedly brief and we recognize this as a limitation. That said, this study is a descriptive pilot study, with the intent of contributing to further discussion about voting. To date, only one other study (see Kjellberg & Hemmingsson, 2013) approached this topic from the perspective of individuals with ID themselves. Further, this brief interview period was based on part by our awareness of the reality of collecting information from this population. In this respect, it is not surprising that there was only sparse dialogue. Future research is clearly needed.

Despite the above limitations, this study, as noted above, is one of the few that has examined voting from the perspective of adults with ID. Most importantly, it has provided affirmation that voting is important to people with ID and provides evidence of their inclusion in the broader community as citizens. These perspectives are consistent with initiatives to increase choice and self-determination among people with ID. As such, efforts to support informed participation in voting ultimately benefit society as a whole (Bell et al., 2001).

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