10 Tips for Voters With Disabilities
Before you vote in the next election, know the voting process in your State. The following tips from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission examine the options available to help voters with disabilities vote privately and independently.
1. Learn more about voting Call, visit, or e-mail your State or local elections office well in advance of election day. Visit the elections office’s Web site for more information about accessible voting. Links to State elections offices are available at http:// www.eac.gov/voter_resources/ contact_your_state.aspx. Familiarize yourself with:
- The voting laws in your State.
- Voter registration deadlines.
- Other deadlines, such as for early voting and absentee ballot requests.
- The ballot.
- The accessible voting machine.
- Alternative voting options, such as having someone accompany you to the polling place.
- The accessibility of the polling place.
- The candidates.
- Ballot propositions.
2. Register to vote Your local elections office can help you register and answer any questions you may have. Be aware of registration deadlines. Contact your local office well before election day. Many States now offer online voter registration on their Web sites. After you register, double-check the accuracy of your registration, such as your address and party affiliation. Links to State elections offices and online voter registration are available at http://www.eac.gov/ voter_resources/contact_your_ state.aspx.
3. Choose the right voting method for you There are several voting options available: You can vote at your designated local polling place on election day. Many states also offer early voting, before election day, or absentee voting, so you can receive and return your absentee ballot through the mail. Some States offer permanent absentee voting. If you encounter a registration issue on election day, Federal law allows you to vote with a provisional ballot and vote the ballot independently.
4. Communicate your needs in advance Identifying your needs may help you and your elections office. Consider contacting your local elections office about voting options for voters with disabilities. The election office can provide information about accessible machines and other voting methods. On election day, alert poll workers about your accessibility needs.
5. Check the location and accessibility of your polling place Your State or local elections office can tell you the location of your polling place. It will also have information about polling place accessibility. Inquire about the location’s accessible voting equipment. Remember, planning ahead will help you identify possible transportation, parking, and other accessibility needs.
6. Know your rights Under The Help America Vote Act, you have the right to vote privately and independently. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been interpreted as setting the tone for polling place and ballot access in certain situations. Consider reaching out to organizations that support voters with disabilities. Several online resources provided by organizations for people with disabilities exist to assist voters with disabilities. Accessibility resources from EAC are available at http://www.eac.gov/voter_ resources/resources_for_voters_ with_disabilities.aspx.
7. Follow up with the elections office after you vote Election officials want to hear about your experience with accessible voting. After election day, tell your elections office about your experience voting, whether it was positive or in need of improvement. Many elections offices have committees for voters with disabilities. Consider getting involved.
8. Know who can help if voting is not accessible Contact your State or local elections office with your specific concerns. You can also contact the Department of Justice Voting Rights Division at http:// www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/ votintake/index.php. Also consider speaking with organizations that support people with disabilities.
9. Stay informed After you vote, sign up for e-mail and text alerts to stay connected with your local elections office. Consider getting involved directly. Join a community engagement committee for voters with disabilities or offer your assistance as a poll worker.
10. Get more information Your local elections office might be able to connect you with organizations in your area that support people with disabilities. These groups often provide transportation to the polls and help identify the accessibility of polling places. Internet resources exist to help voters with disabilities find ballot and candidate information. Your local library, newspapers, and other news outlets will also have information about election day.