Voting is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, and it has never been as important as it is today.
Did you know that the disability community, if all were
active voters, would be one of the largest and most influential voting blocs in
the country? Unfortunately, many Americans with disabilities do not take part
in the voting process. The reasons for this are many, but one reason may be
that voting may feel inaccessible to someone who has a disability. Fortunately,
several federal laws have been established over the years to ensure that
Americans with disabilities have full and equal access to participating in the
political process through voting.
While states may enact their own laws in respect to voting
access, federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help
America Vote Act that lay out strict national standards about voting
accessibility to ensure that no American is left out of the political process
due to his or her disability.
Here are three of your most basic and fundamental rights as
a voter with a disability.
You have the right to request an absentee ballot
In the age of COVID-19, the option to vote absentee is more
important than ever. All eligible voters have the right to request an absentee
ballot, and according to standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities
Act and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993,
voting materials including state websites, registration forms and ballots are
required to meet strict national accessibility standards.
For voters intending to vote absentee, it is very important
that you read up on specific rules and regulations in your state. For more
information on your state’s absentee voting process, check out this page on Vote.org
which will help you easily find absentee voting information specific to your
You have the right to an accessible polling place
Should you choose to vote in-person on election day, your
polling place is required to take steps outlined in the Americans with
Disabilities Act to ensure the location is accessible for all voters. ADA
requires that people with disabilities can physically access voting sites,
whether they be at city hall, a church, a business or anywhere else. There’s a
standard checklist that helps election officials understand whether their site
fits the bill, which you can view on the ADA website.
Furthermore, The Help America Vote Act of 2002 states that
if a location is conducting a federal election, voting machines need to be
accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Poll workers must
ensure the machines work and that election workers are fully trained on them.
Additionally, the ADA requires officials conducting any elections to provide
effective communication and auxiliary aids and services at every stage of the
process, from registration through casting a ballot.
You have the right to have someone assist you at the
Privacy is fundamental when it comes to voting, whether you
have a disability or not. However, voters who have a disability and require
assistance at the polls are entitled to having an assistant in the voting booth
according to the Help America Vote Act of 2002. All poll workers, regardless of
the state, are required to honor this regulation. However, if you run into an
instance where you are questioned when bringing someone with you to the ballot
box (which does happen), make sure you mention the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Voting is at the heart of who we are as Americans and no
citizens should be left out of the process because of a disability. 2020 is one
of the most consequential elections in our nation’s history, so it is more
important than ever that people with disabilities make their voices heard!
Whether you choose to vote absentee or on election day, we
hope you take part in the voting process. As Americans, there is nothing of