This year’s Election Day, on November 2, 2021, offers voters the opportunity to elect candidates for local and statewide offices throughout the nation. In gearing up for these contests, we gathered some information to share about voting rights and access:
Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities: For many years, individuals with disabilities did not have access to voting. For those with blindness or low vision, the ballot itself was not accessible. Federal civil rights laws were enacted to “combat…discrimination and protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans.” The landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, includes in its provisions the requirement that state and local governments ensure that people with disabilities have full and equal opportunities to vote. This encompasses voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots. Other Federal laws ensure additional rights. For example, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 seeks to increase the historically low voting registration rates of people with disabilities and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires polling places in federal elections to provide at least one accessible voting system for individuals with disabilities. For details about these and other Federal voting laws, including how their requirements can be implemented, read about The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities.
A Voting Toolkit, focused on accessible voting for people who are blind or have low vision, is provided by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). The toolkit provides information developed to address COVID-19 concerns, along with ensuring accessibility. ACB’s toolkit details the establishment of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide assistance to states to improve voting systems and access to voting, established through the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Toolkit highlights other relevant legislation and advice on “How to Take Action as a Voter.” Check out the Voting Toolkit: Accessible Voting for People Who are Blind or Low Vision.
If you need accommodations on Election Day, check with your state or local election office to find out what you expect at your polling site. For more information, check out the section on the usa.gov website “Voting and Election Laws” Voter Accessibility Laws.