All polling places are required to have accessible voting systems — but remember your photo ID, or you may not be allowed to cast your ballot!
The November 2012 elections are not far away. All American citizens are encouraged to take advantage of their right to vote.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires accessible voting systems for people with disabilities in all polling places: “The voting system shall…be accessible for individuals with disabilities, including nonvisual accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters….”
People with disabilities use a variety of assistive technologies to address vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity, memory, reading and other functional limitations. You can take along necessary assistive technology (e.g., hearing aids, neck loops, mobility aids, switches, and magnifiers) and are encouraged to use that assistive technology in addition to the accessible voting system. Regarding these systems, poll workers can offer a demonstration or assistance, if you, the voter, request it.
If you don’t want to take a chance on finding a truly accessible polling place, you can vote early, by mail. But if you go in person, this fall’s elections could offer an additional challenge: new photo ID laws that could make voting more difficult — and not because of accessibility issues.
Voter ID has been a hot topic in state legislatures over the past decade. Since 2001, nearly 1,000 bills have been introduced in a total of 46 states. Twenty-one states passed major legislation between 2003 and 2011.
If you don’t drive, obtain a photo ID instead of a driver’s license; states that require photo IDs for voting are making them available for free. Alternative forms of identification vary with states, so do some checking before you go; visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Visit eac.gov for discussions on accessibility accommodations for the physical act of casting a ballot at a polling place, voting by mail, early voting, and voting in long-term care facilities.