Know Before You Go: Federal Laws Protect Rights of Voters with Disabilities
U.S. Justice Department provides publication available online to voters with questions about their rights.
With voters heading to the polls around the nation, it's important for voters with disabilities to understand their rights. An online publication from the U.S. Justice Department provides information about federal laws that protect these rights. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act.
The publication, “The Americans with Disabilities Act & Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities,” is intended to help election officials, poll workers and voters understand how the ADA and other federal laws ensure equality in the voting process for people with disabilities. Access the publication here.
To find out more about the publication or the ADA, you may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or visit ADA.gov.
Mark Johnson, director of advocacy at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, urges voters with disabilities to know their rights before heading to the polls.
"Being an informed and active voter is critical to making communities accessible and inclusive," Johnson said. "It also can have a positive impact on the responsiveness of health and human services and support systems."
Voters with disabilities should expect their polling places to accommodate their needs for accessibility, Johnson explained. For example, if the elevated stage of a school auditorium is used as a polling place, there must be a ramp to the stage and there should be signage and/or a poll worker directing a voter in a wheelchair to that ramp if it is not in plain view. Also, voting booth height must be adjusted to the meet the needs of wheelchair users, he added.
Johnson also noted that newer voting options, such as early voting, and new voting technologies, such as online voter registration and online voting, make the voting process more accessible to everyone.
In addition to the new Justice Department publication on the rights of voters with disabilities, Johnson suggests some other resources:
- The U.S. Election Assistance Commission offers a resource page that includes guidance for both election officials and voters with disabilities. Resources include a checklist, guidelines, toolkit and video. Access the page here.
- The Justice Department operates a website where voters with disabilities can file a complaint if they believe their rights have been violated. Access the page here.
- Register, Educate &Vote (REV Up) website
- CripTheVote website
- The RespectAbility Report
- Disability Leadership blog
- National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) subcommittee update
- NCIL Voting Rights website
- American Association of People with Disabilities voting-related web page
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, multiple amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. Ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals for rehabilitation and the best in the Southeast, Shepherd Center treats more than 850 inpatients and 7,600 outpatients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.