|By J. David McSwane, Austin American-Statesman|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
About 50 Texas disability rights and advocacy groups are working together to mobilize disabled voters who could be profoundly affected by the results of the
The consortium has invited both Republican and Democratic candidates in the state's top three elections to come to
"The disability vote, which has historically been thought not to exist, is coming together because they know that this election will be transformational, and the outcome will have a big effect of the integration of people with disabilities," said
So far only Democratic candidates have agreed to attend the
Kafka said his group is nonpartisan and has made numerous attempts to invite the Republican hopefuls, all of whom have declined. The group has offered to alter the forum's format, Kafka said, or allow candidates to participate via video conference.
"We are still working with the campaigns of Attorney General
The disabled voter bloc hasn't quite entered the political lexicon, the forum's organizers concede, but they said the concerns of the disabled are often lost amid the state and national debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act. Health care reform affects not only the disabled, they said, but their families and providers who together comprise a notable slice of the electorate.
"This election has really spurred our community," said organizer
Worried their platform will be portrayed as partisan, Borel and other advocates said they hope the Republican candidates reconsider the invitation.
"What's this say about those who are coming?" he said. "It says they're running a campaign of inclusion."
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