July 27, 2020
Silver Spring, MD – On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. This legislation established a comprehensive national law to ensure people with disabilities have equal rights and opportunities throughout all aspects of their lives. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ADA, EAC Chairman Ben Hovland, Vice Chair Don Palmer, Commissioner Tom Hicks, and Commissioner Christy McCormick issued the following joint statement:
With the passing of the ADA, Americans with disabilities finally gained civil rights protections to reduce barriers across all aspects of life, including the barriers to casting a private and independent ballot. With the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) celebrates the landmark legislation that gave equal access to the ballot box for all voters, and we recommit our efforts to promote full compliance according to both the ADA and the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) in order to have fully accessible elections. There is still much to be done.
COVID-19 has created additional barriers for voters with disabilities during the 2020 primaries and the general election. Election officials have responded to the pandemic by expanding mail or absentee voting options and adjusting in-person voting location protocols. These changes have led to significant concerns about the rights of voters with disabilities to mark their ballot privately and independently. The anniversary of the ADA not only serves as a reminder that these rights and protections must be preserved, but also that we must do more. As November draws near, we look forward to continuing to work with election officials across the country to reduce the challenges faced by voters with disabilities. We must work together to ensure that elections are safe, secure, and accessible for all voters.
For more information about the EAC’s efforts to assist voters with disabilities and the election officials who serve them, please visit the following links:
- WWW.EAC.GOV – Visit the EAC’s Voting Accessibility page for resources and tools designed to serve voters with disabilities and the election officials who serve them.
- The EAC Voting Rights Card - This resource is designed to assist voters with disabilities at the polls. It is available in pocket size, as well as braille and large print to assist voters who are visually impaired and blind. The EAC has distributed thousands of these cards and continues to provide them today.
- Roundtable Discussions – Commissioner Thomas Hicks hosted a series of roundtables with disability advocates and election officials to talk about important issues facing voters with disabilities, especially during COVID-19, and how to ensure a fully accessible Election Day
- 2020 Disability, Accessibility, and Security Forum – In February, the EAC hosted a collaborative event to bring together election officials, people with disabilities, advocates for people with disabilities, and election security experts. The forum focused on practical solutions for accessible election administration.
- EAC “Clearie” Awards for Improving Accessibility for Voters with Disabilities – A key function of the EAC is to highlight and share innovative approaches to improving election administration, including efforts that improve accessibility for voters with disabilities. Each year, the EAC bestows its Clearinghouse Awards, better known as the “Clearies,” to celebrate these achievements and showcase programs that other election administrators may wish to emulate. In 2019, these award-winning efforts were submitted by the Merced County Registrar of Voters in California, The National Council on Independent Living, and the Washington DC Board of Elections.
- 2019 Standards Board Meeting Presentation on Disability Rights – Commissioner Donald Palmer presented at the April 2019 Standards Board Meeting in Memphis, Tennessee on disability rights related to voting.
- Fact Sheet: How the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Empowers Voters with Disabilities and the Election Officials who Serve Them – This fact sheet is available online and contains information about the commission’s commitment to ensuring the election process, polling places and voting services are accessible.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections by developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as administers the use of HAVA funds. For more information, visit www.eac.gov.
Contact: Kristen Muthig