It's Election Season! The Disability Vote Counts

By Devika Rao

It's election season again! In November, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections taking place on November 6, 2018.

Midterm elections are held between presidential elections, and this year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and the full terms for 33 out of the 100 seats in the United States Senate are up for election.

In addition to the federal election, there are 39 gubernatorial (governor) races, state elections and hundreds of local elections taking place across the country.

While most attention leans towards federal elections, it is important to pay attention to state and local elections as well. Like all elections, this year it is important for people with disabilities to head to the polls to make their voices heard.

Civics 101
When educating yourself on who is running for office, it is helpful to know what responsibilities each office holds. Once this is clear you will most certainly want to stay informed on every level.

Federal - US House
Also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman, each representative belongs to the legislative branch, the part of the government that makes laws. Each is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district - there are 435 in the country. 

A congressional district is an electoral constituency that elects a single member of Congress. It is based on population, taken by the US census every 10 years. The US House represents the people directly.

Federal - US Senate
Senators also belong to the legislative branch, the part of the government that makes laws. The Senate ratifies treaties and confirms appointments to judicial and executive branches, including cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices.

A senator's job is to represent the people living in his or her state. Senators serve staggered six-year terms, meaning that not all individuals are up for election at the same time. Rather, elections are held every two years for one-third of Senate seats.

State Of GA elections
Voters in Georgia will also be selecting a new governor, state senators and representatives, and city council men and women.

The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature. It is bicameral, meaning it consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each of the General Assembly's 236 members serve two-year terms and are directly elected by constituents of their district. While both houses have similar powers, each also has unique duties. (e.g. the origination of appropriations bills only occurs in the House, while the Senate is tasked with confirming Governor's appointments.)

Georgia - State Senate
A state senator represents constituents in their respective districts. Their votes are based on feedback from constituents in order to represent the people in legislative sessions. In addition to their role as negotiators within the state legislature, many participate in committees and oversee committee members as well as contractors responsible for projects in their district.

Composed of 56 members elected every two years, the GA Senate meets over a non-consecutive 40-day period beginning in mid-January to set the state's operating budget and create and amend a variety of laws on topics ranging from healthcare (like Medicaid and DD Waivers) to public safety.

Georgia - State House
With its 180 members from districts across the State, the GA House of Representatives is the larger of the two chambers of the General Assembly. Its members serve two-year terms and each January convene to set the state's operating budget and priorities ranging from agricultural development to tax policy.

Local Elections
Local elections are equally as important as state and federal elections. This level of government is more directly responsible for serving your community. Local government - like city councils, mayors, school boards and more - impact almost every aspect of an individual's daily life.

The powers and duties of the Mayor and City Council are contained in state law and City ordinances, resolutions and regulations. The Council works to adopt regulations for the health, safety and welfare of the current and future inhabitants.

Local government works on:

  • Local school quality
  • Policing / public safety
  • Rent costs / affordable housing
  • Public transit
  • Alcohol / marijuana ordinances
  • City colleges / job training

The individuals you choose to represent you on a local level play an important part in how communities serve everyone, including people with disabilities.

Responsibilities of the Executive Branch In GA
Governor - heads the state's executive branch and has considerable control over budgeting, appointment of many officials (including judges), and a considerable role in legislation.
Lieutenant Governor - second highest elected official in state, influences state policy and spending priorities. As President of the Senate, presides over debate and oversees legislation. Serves the unexpired term if the Governor dies or exercises those powers if the Governor is incapacitated.
Secretary of State - responsible for the administration of secure, accessible and fair elections; registration of corporations; regulation of charities and securities; and oversight of professional licenses.
Attorney General - acts as chief legal advisor to the state and state's chief law enforcement officer.
Commissioner of Agriculture - heads the GA Dept. of Agriculture, responsible for regulating and promoting GA agriculture industry.
Commissioner of Insurance - administrative head of the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, which regulate the state's insurance industry and oversees state fire safety initiatives.
State School Superintendent - responsible for overseeing and coordinating the state's elementary and secondary schools.
Commissioner of Labor - responsible for implementing the state's labor regulations, operating unemployment insurance and rehabilitation programs and producing GA labor statistics. 2018 Midterm Elections

Focus on GEORGIA
Who will Georgians be Voting For?

  • All 56 State Senators
  • All 180 State Representatives
  • The 14 US Representatives from the State of GA
  • Governor of GA
  • Lt. Governor of GA
  • GA Executive Branch (see above)
  • Local Officials

To find out who is seeking election or re-election in your district in Georgia, visit 

Save the Date! Nov 6, 2018 - 2018 Midterm Elections

To read more in Making a Difference magazine, see below:

Download pdf version of Making a Difference Spring 2018    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Spring 2018