Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Every Vote Counts: Accessibility in the November 2023 Elections

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:

Surveys from the 2020 Presidential election showed improvements for voters with disabilities. According to the 2020 Election Disability and Voting Accessibility Survey, approximately 11 percent of disabled voters reported difficulties voting, dropping from 26 percent in 2012. Although marking progress from previous election cycles, many election systems remain inaccessible. For voters with vision impairments, there are challenges to casting a ballot. Voting by absentee ballot is a popular alternative, but print size may present problems. For those voting in person, safety and accessibility at physical polling sites are also concerns. A wide range of resources are available to increase accessibility, through legal protections and other means. Individuals who are blind or visually impaired have the right to have someone they trust provide assistance with marking their ballot, if they choose to do so. The American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) describe some of the laws governing voter accessibility, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. As part of a “walk-through” of voters’ rights laws, ACB provides a toolkit for accessible voting. An important resource for completing ballots in person is the accessible Ballot Marking Device (BMD). According to a survey conducted by NFB, as many as one-third of all poll workers do not know how to operate the BMD. In addition, some voters who are blind or have low vision are not familiar with BMD accessibility features and require assistance rather than voting privately and independently. Videos from NFB demonstrate the accessibility features and how to mark a ballot with four of the most commonly used BMDs, which are available for poll worker training and voter education. To learn more about the state of accessibility in voting, read the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Study on Disability and Voting Accessibility in the 2020 Elections. For additional information about accessible voting for individuals with vision loss, including relevant laws nationally and in individual states, visit:

– the ACB webpage providing a Voting Toolkit: Accessible Voting for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision and

– the NFB webpage on Voting Resources
For additional insights, read the Perkins School for the Blind article exploring How do People with Low Vision…Vote?