Voting For People With Disabilities

Posted by Connie on Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 at 9:58 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.
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You have the right to vote! From the NP Action site:

Disabled Americans have a constitutionally protected fundamental right to vote, just like the rest of us. Beyond this constitutional protection, federal and state laws ensure access to voting places and systems. Election officials must comply with these regulations to avoid litigation. The law gives disabled voters the same opportunity to vote as able bodied citizens, even if extra assistance by election officials or poll workers is required. For example one election law expert suggested offering curb side voting for disabled voters administered by trained poll workers. In general, polling places and workers must be sensitive to the needs of the disabled and make good faith efforts to provide at least the minimum of statutorily defined accommodations at each site.

Federal laws that protect voting rights of the disabled are:

Voting Rights Act of 1965- In addition to providing sweeping protections for minority voting rights, the VRA allowed those with various disabilities to receive assistance “by a person of the voter’s choice”, as long as that person was not the disabled voter’s boss or union agent.

Voting Accessibility for Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984- Mandated “handicapped and elderly” access to polling places, and provided for the creation of permanent disabled access voter registration sites.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990- Prohibited discrimination against “individuals with disabilities” and required that accommodations be made for disabled citizens at places of employment, public service, as well as private operators. The ADA was enacted to ensure that the historical exclusion of disabled Americans in numerous areas, including voting, would be scaled back significantly. Sixteen years after the passage of this landmark legislation, compliance issues remain, with suits filed against local governments to compel better and faster compliance under the law. Read about a recent case here.

If you come across any type of difficulty voting, be it gaining access to your place to vote, voting itself or discrimination from poll workers, please call the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931(voice) or 1-888-305-3228 (TTY – For those who are deaf or hard of hearing). Call right from the polling place if possible. Do not let anyone take your right away to vote! There will be poll watchers available and on call all day during Election Day, November 4th.

There are also volunteers who will be manning the phones for any type of problems at the polls so that these can be handled as soon as possible. In case your issue cannot be solved right away, you have the right to vote using a provisional ballot. But that is a last resort. So please know your rights and take action by calling if there is any problem you come across.

Here is a great video called My Voice, My Vote about your right to vote when you have a disability:

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  1. Thanks for the post and for sharing the video. I just voted indepedently for the first time ever last week thanks to an accessible voting machine. If you’re reading this, make sure you get out and vote on Tuesday.

    Larry’s last blog post..Voting for the First Time

    comment by Larry — November 2, 2008 @ 10:42 pm
  2. Connie,

    Thank you for the important reminder and the tips about how to protect your rights. I heard you gave me a tweet the other night about my post on voting, thank you for that. I am calling the election board this morning to make sure I don’t have a problem tomorrow when I go to vote. I changed my address within the deadline, but never received my voter registration card.


    comment by Maureen — November 3, 2008 @ 9:40 am
  3. Connie, What a great service this post is to disabled voters!


    Kerry’s last blog post..A Gift of Raindrops

    comment by Kerry — November 4, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

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