Portland, Maine, Nov. 4 – Incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins has won a hotly contested race to continue representing Maine in the U.S. Senate, beating Democratic challenger and Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon.
Sen. Collins completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Gideon, in her attempt to unseat Sen. Collins, also completed the RespectAbility questionnaire.
According to the 2019 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, the total number of Mainers with disabilities is 219,649, making up 16.6 percent of the total state population. 2018 employment data shows that there are 114,014 working-age people with disabilities living in Maine. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 42,411 of those Mainers had a job and the Pine Tree State had a disability employment rate of 37.2 percent.
“Clearly, connecting with voters with disabilities is a winning strategy,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “We congratulate Sen. Collins and look forward to working with her and her team on a wide range of issues so that together we can build an inclusive economy where people with disabilities can have the dignity and income of work, just like anyone else.”
One-in-five Americans have a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, America has 61 million people with disabilities. Further, Rutgers University found that there were more than 38 million eligible voters with disabilities in the 2020 election. Polling conducted early in the election season showed that the disability community is a large and electorally contested voting bloc. As such, the victory of candidates such as Sen. Collins who made a special effort to connect with voters in the disability community proves that the disability community can be a key pool of voters in tight electoral contests.
RespectAbility reached out to candidates for President, Governor and U.S. Senate, requesting they complete the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire on key topics ranging from employment, education, criminal justice, healthcare and more. On the presidential level, Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden filled out the full questionnaire. Despite numerous requests by phone and email, President Donald Trump did not.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 candidates.