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Voters with Disabilities are Often Forgotten

The disability community has historically faced difficulties casting a ballot. Polling locations may only have one accessible voting machine for voters with disabilities and, oftentimes, the machine is broken or poll workers don’t know how to set it up. Absentee or mail ballots are inaccessible for blind and print-disabled voters who cannot independently and privately mark a paper ballot. In 2020, 23% of visually impaired voters had trouble voting in person and 25% had trouble voting by mail. The turnout gap for disabled voters was 4% in 2020, despite increased access to vote at-home options. The gap for visually impaired voters was even higher at 11.6%.

  • 11.6 % Visually-impaired voter turnout was nearly 12% lower than non-disabled voters.
  • 23 % of visually impaired voters had trouble voting in person.

Mobile Voting will Help Americans with Disabilities Have Equal Access to the Ballot Box

Over the past three years, we have seen the positive effects of mobile voting for the disability community. With mobile voting, voters with disabilities no longer have to choose between a secret ballot or a burdensome process when casting their ballots. Mobile voting options enable voters with disabilities to use their own assistive technology to mark and return their ballot independently and privately. 


Resources & Related News

  •  In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act which mandated every polling location to have at least one accessible voting machine available. Prior to HAVA, there was no requirement that maintained a blind voter’s right to a secret ballot.
  • This paper from the Open Source Election Technology Institute covers an overview of the current situation for voters with disabilities, how we got to this moment, and provides a roadmap with actionable items to help ensure voters with disabilities are afforded equal access to the ballot box.

Tracy Carcionne is a visually impaired voter from New Jersey.

“I was able to read the question, say yes or no, review everything, finalized my ballot, and had the option to return it electronically, which I did. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes. It was totally easy.”

Image of Tracy Image of Tracy

Have a Story to Share?

Are you a disabled voter who has faced difficulties casting your ballot? Have you participated in a mobile voting pilot? Share your story with us so others hear how mobile voting has helped you!

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