Voting Accessibility for People with Disabilities Fact Sheet

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While election administration is governed by individual state law, there are certain fundamental principles of federal civil rights law, and requirements of accepting federal funds, that require accessibility for people with disabilities. Under the Help America Vote Act[1] (HAVA), states are obligated to ensure certain voter protections with respect to voters with disabilities, either as a mandatory requirement or through their acceptance of the federal grants. Further, under the Americans with Disabilities Act[2] (ADA), state and local governments are required to make programs and practices accessible to persons with disabilities; as must public entities receiving federal financial assistance per the Rehabilitation Act.[3]

Mandatory Requirements Under HAVA of Uniform and Nondiscriminatory Election Technology and Administration:

  • Voting systems shall be accessible for individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters; and
     
  • provide at least one direct recording electronic voting system or other voting systems equipped for individuals with disabilities at each polling place.

HAVA Requirements Made through State and Local Government Acceptance of Federal Payments:

  • Make polling places, including the path of travel, entrances, exits, and voting areas of each polling facility, accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters.
     
  • Provide individuals with disabilities with information about the accessibility of polling places, including outreach programs to inform the individuals about the availability of accessible polling places.
    • Websites used to provide this outreach must be made accessible to people with disabilities.
       
  • Train election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers on how best to promote the access and participation of individuals with disabilities in elections for federal office.
    • This training must not exclude information concerning the rights of voters with respect to registration and mail-in ballots.

Requirement Under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act Regarding the Voting Process:

Title II of the ADA requires states to ensure that voters with disabilities are offered an opportunity to vote that is equal to the opportunity offered to voters without disabilities, whether in person or absentee. Additionally, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits public entities receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against people with disabilities in their programs, services, or activities. These laws apply with respect to mail-in ballots, polling places, and the voting process.


[1] “Help America Vote Act,” 42 U.S.C. 15301 et seq.

[2] “Americans with Disabilities Act,” 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

[3] “Rehabilitation Act,” 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.