Being able to vote is a part of our democracy and an important right of our nation. Federal civil rights laws help to ensure fairness in the voting rights of people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that provides protections to people with disabilities that are similar to protections provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments (“public entities”) to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote. The ADA’s provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election Day or during an early voting process. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) also contains provisions relevant to the voting rights of people with disabilities. The VRA requires election officials to allow a voter who is blind or has another disability to receive assistance from a person of the voter’s choice (other than the voter's employer or its agent or an officer or agent of the voter’s union). The VRA also prohibits conditioning the right to vote on a citizen being able to read or write, attaining a particular level of education, or passing an interpretation “test.”
The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting on Election Day.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) aims, among other things, to increase the historically low registration rates of persons with disabilities. The NVRA requires all offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs that primarily serve persons with disabilities to also provide the opportunity to register to vote in federal elections.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires jurisdictions responsible for conducting federal elections to provide at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence that other voters receive.
How can a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?
If a person with a disability needs assistance to vote there are several option. You may receive personal help at the voting poll during early voting or on Election Day, a touch screen or other accessible marking device may be provided; or the option to vote by mail is available. To have access to these options a person must contact the Supervisor of Elections. In Palm Beach County, contact The Supervisor of Elections Office by phone at (561) 656-6200, via e-mail at [email protected] or in person at one of their offices Click Here for a list.
Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic?
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities. U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section