Accessible Voting Act of 2020 introduced in the Senate
By PVA National Staff
On January 16, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), introduced S.3206, the Accessible Voting Act, which would support state and local efforts to improve voter accessibility and remove barriers to voting. In the 2016 general election, 16 million votes, representing 11.5 percent of the total votes, were cast by people with disabilities. Despite federal laws requiring fully accessible voting places, barriers to vote for people with disabilities still exist. In 2016, only 40 percent of polling places were architecturally accessible and only 45 percent of voting booths were accessible. Combining these deficiencies of physical and voting booth access a GAO study found that only 17 percent of the polling places it examined during the 2016 election were fully accessible.
PVA has had a long-standing commitment to ensuring that voting is accessible. The integrity of our democracy is based on the right to vote of all eligible voters who are registered. Over the years PVA helped expand access to voting with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires polling places to be accessible to people with disabilities (ADA Checklist for Polling Places). Furthermore, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) made it easier to register at your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) ensured the ballot was accessible entering the age of electronic voting and established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
The Accessible Voting Act would:
- Establish the Office of Accessibility within the EAC to support and oversee state efforts to expand voter accessibility and serve as a resource for advocates and voters;
- Provide up-to-date voting information and resources, through accessible websites, to ensure voters know how to register to vote, cast an absentee ballot and find help if their right to vote is challenged;
- Expand the number of options to cast a ballot in federal elections so voters with disabilities can utilize the voting option most accessible for them;
- Create a national resource center on accessible voting to conduct cultural competency trainings for election officials and poll workers to create truly accessible voting systems; and
- Increase grants to states to improve accessibility when registering to vote, voting by absentee ballot, and casting a ballot in person.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), is also an original cosponsor of the Accessible Voting Act. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rules.