Voting Success for People with Disabilities

This document from AbleData provides links to state Division of Elections, links to Disability Vote Coalitions, Pre-Election Day Preparation tips, an Election Day checklist and a section covering Nation-wide Voting differences. 


When is your primary? Register to vote online! Go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program and find your state.


Dear Friends,

Every citizen of the United States has a fundamental right to vote in an election. Therefore every votingI voted sticker district must allow for alternative voting access to the polling place, as well as a voting machine. At the very least, wheelchair access must be provided. If you live near a polling place that is inaccessible, immediately contact your local government office, such as an alderman or mayor's office to request access. When it comes to privacy, polling places are still behind in compliance. Many voters must still receive assistance from another person, compromising his/her privacy. In order for all disabled voters to enjoy the same privacy in voting that non-disabled voters do, at least one voting machine in each polling place should have an audio prompt for the blind and an attachment allowing quadriplegics to cast votes with their breath, using a sip-and-puff system.

If you live in Chicago, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners offers these tips.  If you are not in the Chicago area, please check your local Board of Election Commissioners website for information in your locale. The following information is for Chicago voters: 

Use the new online registration system or download the form or call 312.269.7851 to have a form mailed.

Vote early.  Here are the fully accessible sites. Remember you must have a govenment photo ID for early voting. 

Vote by mail or absentee ballot.  Apply online to vote by mail. Remember to use a black or blue ballpoint pen.

Obtain a Five-Year Disabled Voter's Identification card valid for all elections during a five-year period. You will automatically be sent an absentee ballot aplplication by the Board prior to each election. This card may be used by a disabled voter, or a resident of a nursing home or care facility. 


Accessibility Devices & Features in Polling Places (Chicago)

Look for or ask about similar devices and features in your locale. 

Alternate Entrance Signs: Where needed, will be posted at polling places to direct voters with disabilities to the entrance that offers the asiest access.

Assisted Voting: is available to those who designate a trusted family member or other friend to help cast a ballot.  An affidavit must be signed by the voter and the person assisting. Alternatively, the voter may request assistance of two judges of election, one from each major political party to help. 

Curbside Voting: Every effort is made to use buildings that are full accessible.  However, when a site is not fully accessible, curbside voting is provided when voters file a request. Please see this site for specifics of filing the request one day before the election.

Designated Parking: is provided for vehicles that display the placards for drivers with disabilties.

Audio Controller Unit and Audio Ballots: in the touchscreen voting units allow a visually impaired voter to hear the instructions, offices, candidates and referenda. AccuVote and AutoMark are examples.

Audio Visual Ballots: on the touchscreen allow voters who may have difficulty moving their arms or dexterity issues to use the keypad and headphones.

Ballot Marker Grippers: allow voters to easily hold the marking pens for paper ballots.

Large Ballot Viewers: magnifying lenses to enlarge print on paper ballots.

Door Bells: are offered outside entrances when there are heavy doors. A judge of election will open the door for the voter. BallotCall will alert the officials that assistance is needed. 

Sip-and-Puff Devices also called AirVoter:  These are sip and puff (pneumatic) controls that allow users to activate a voting machine by inhaling or exhaing.  They may be used with the audio controller and will navigate the voter through the audio ballot.

Threshold Ramps: are provided when thresholds make entering a polling place difficult for voters in wheelchairs. 

Wheelchair Accessible Voting Booths: available in each polling place. Voters may use a paper optical-scan ballot or the touchscreen. A chair may be provided for voters unable to stand for long periods. There is also a means of altering voting booths using a Leg Adapter Kit to widen the booth and accommodate wheelchairs.