An Actionable Guide to Running for Office as a Person With a Disability

By Ed Carter

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An estimated 12.6 percent of Americans live with a disability, according to the Hill. However, people with disabilities remain drastically underrepresented in politics. If you are living with a disability and considering running for office, you can help enact a positive change. That said, if you have zero previous political experience, taking this step can be daunting. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as you might expect.


Planning is the key to success when entering any election campaign, whether it’s a city council position or a senate seat. Read on to learn how you can run for political office as a person with a disability.


Build a team to support your campaign


Harvard explains that campaigns usually employ many different people, including fundraisers, speechwriters, field organizers, communications consultants, and more. Don’t have money for a huge team? Don’t stress. Many people volunteer for these roles at the local level. You may find that individuals who identify with your cause and message will be happy to support your campaign.


Whether you’re running a business or a campaign, effective communication is critical to your success. When discussing directives and strategy with your team, communicate clearly and consistently. 


Familiarize yourself with the issues


Politics is all about enacting change. If you want to make a change in your community, you have to figure out exactly what needs to be changed. Get involved in your local community to see what issues are at stake. Attending city council meetings is a good start. The National League of Cities explains that city councils are responsible for passing local resolutions and ordinances, regulating public health and safety, and more.


You can also find out what’s important to your community and the people in it by getting out there and talking to the general public. Make an effort to get involved by attending local happenings, like festivals, county fairs, and charity fundraisers. 


Get your message out to the voting public in person and online


As you inform yourself about the issues affecting your community, you can start formulating your response to them. What solutions can you offer if you’re elected to office? What changes are needed in your view? These kinds of questions will help you craft compelling campaign messages. CallHub explains that great political messaging will engage supporters. It also usually clearly contrasts the opposition’s point of view.


Once you’ve formulated clear messages, it’s important to share them with people. These are the values and beliefs that resonate with your campaign and will attract voters to you. There are many ways to share messages, from giving political speeches to participating in debates. Scholastic offers tips for writing great political speeches that can help you formulate your ideas succinctly and powerfully.


In addition to sharing your message at events, take advantage of digital platforms. Social media can be a great way to connect with voters. This is especially true if you want to reach persons with disabilities who may not always be able to attend in-person meetings. Sprout Social provides best practices for using social media in politics. For example, they recommend engaging people with live video streams.


If you’re preparing to run for office as a person with a disability, you have a chance to make a real change. Follow the above tips to help guide a successful election campaign.

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