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Voting: The Hallmark of Our Democracy for Everyone

Pencil Checking a Box to Vote

It was 30 years ago that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. Voting is one of our nation's most fundamental rights, yet barriers still exist that exclude people with disabilities from this central aspect of citizenship. Whether the barriers are physcial (stairs), accessible (only paper ballots), or attitudinal (assumptions about capabilities), since 1990 the ADA requires state and local governments to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote.

Society's Assets assists individuals with disabilities in exercising their right to vote. While situations are certainly unique and personal, some often-asked questions include the following.

  • Can I vote if I reside in a nursing home? An election official cannot refuse to provide an absentee ballot or voter registration form to a person with a disability because the official knows the voter residents in a nursing home.
  • I use crutches and would have difficulty standing in a long line. The ADA does not require that these voters be moved to the front of the line, but the public entity should provide a chair for them while they wait.
  • I don't have a driver's license. Can I provide another form of identification? The ADA requires that election officials not restrict the permissible forms of identification from voters with disabilities to ones that are not available to those voters.
  • I am Deaf. Will I be able to vote? Election officials should have pen and paper available and be prepared to write out questions (like asking for address) at the polling place check-in table.

"You have a voice when you vote," said Pauline Lorenz, Independent Living Program Coordinator at Society's Assets. "Make your voice heard."

If you need specific voter information related to having a disability, contact Society's Assets at 800-378-9128. Or visit www.societysassets.org