Urges Additional Safeguards To Ensure Universal Voting Accessibility
January 24, 2014
WASHINGTON -- On January 22, 2014, after nearly a year of meeting and deliberating with stakeholders from across the nation, the nonpartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) released their report and recommendations spelling out specific steps that can be taken to improve election administration and accessibility.
“The recommendations and best practices urged by PCEA are an excellent foundation,” said Clyde Terry, Chair of the National Council on Disability’s (NCD) Policy Development & Program Evaluation Committee. “But, as always, implementation and enforcement are key. We must take concrete steps to ensure full participation, the removal of unnecessary barriers, and guarantee voting accessibility at every stage of the electoral process, in every state and every locality. No one wants to be doing this again in 10 years.”
As an independent federal agency that recommends disability policy to the President, the Administration and Congress, NCD was particularly pleased the PCEA echoed the recommendations issued in its own October 2013 report Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle” by stressing that:
- Compliance with existing laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) remain inconsistent and inadequate. Enforcement must be strengthened.
- Election authorities should establish advisory groups that include voters with disabilities in meaningful and significant ways.
- States and localities must adopt comprehensive management practices to assure accessible polling places.
The importance of these steps cannot be overstated. As PCEA stated in its report, “The share of the voting population with disabilities will also grow considerably as the Baby Boomer population ages. Issues of voting and accessibility, therefore, are not ones for a discrete subset of the population. Rather, they are issues that many, if not most, voters may experience at some point in their lives.”
NCD concurs. As recommendations are adopted and enacted, NCD also urges the Administration and Congress to take steps to ensure that states do not institute restrictive requirements which disenfranchise voters – including those with disabilities – by adding undue burdens such as requiring photo identification, repealing same-day registration, requiring proof of citizenship, reducing early voting sites and/or early voting schedules, and limiting the restoration of voting rights.
Moreover, NCD reiterates the need for state legislatures and local rulemaking authorities to conduct thorough reviews of existing guardianship laws and modifying them where necessary to ensure that all people with disabilities will have full access to the right to vote independently, alongside their non-disabled peers.
Meaningful checks and balances must be put in place to ensure that every state and locality move quickly to adopt and implement the solutions put forward by both NCD and PCEA. The Administration and Congress must also do their part to provide the necessary supports and incentives to make the recommendations highlighted in PCEA and NCD’s reports a reality.
Read Clyde Terry's January 9 Disability.gov blog post "Improving the Voting Experience in America" at:
Read NCD's October 2013 report "Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle" at:
Download your copy of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration report at: