Although voting is a fundamental right in the United States, people with disabilities face many issues at polling places, despite there being ADA voting rights to protect them. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets requirements for polling places to ensure that people with disabilities can vote. These ADA voting rights cover many topics, including alternate formats of voting materials to physical space requirements.
ADA Voting Rights and Mental Capacity
States can set their own laws addressing the mental capacity of voters. People who have developmental disabilities may find themselves challenged at their polling place. However, a person must be proven mentally incapable in a court for their voting rights to be taken away. This decision cannot be made by the polling place itself. So long as a court has not deemed the person with developmental disabilities to be incompetent, they have the right to vote, and the polling place must accommodate them.
ADA Voting Rights and Accessibility
For federal elections, ADA voting rights require that voting systems must be accessible to all citizens, including those with impaired vision. Additionally, ADA voting rights demand that people with disabilities receive reasonable accommodations at other state and local elections.
In the case of federal elections, those with impaired vision must receive a direct reading electronic system or another system of comparable quality.
In the case of other elections, communication between election staff and people with disabilities must be as effective as the staff’s communication with people who do not have disabilities. This means that at every stage of the voting process from registration to casting the ballot, auxiliary aids must be available to those who need them. These auxiliary aids can include providing a dedicated reader or offering alternate formats of the ballot such as large text or braille.
Polling places must also be physically accessible to people with disabilities that impact their mobility. People in wheelchairs must be able to physically enter the polling place and also approach a voting machine, or there must be a reasonable accommodation to allow people with limited mobility to vote.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are granted reasonable accommodation if they cannot vote alone. This can include having a family member, friend, or staff at the polling place assist them. Assistance can range from help using the voting system to an explanation of the voting process and instructions in plain language.
This requirement is part of every step of the voting process as well. If a person with a disability needs assistance to register to vote, it is legally required that they receive that assistance.
ADA Voting Rights and discrimination
The ADA very clearly stands against the discrimination of people with disabilities. ADA voting rights state that any public entity with a policy or procedure that could prevent people with disabilities from voting must immediately change their policy or procedure. Any available accommodations that can be reasonably acquired for people with disabilities should be given. This includes allowing service animals into polling places, providing chairs for people who cannot stand for long periods of time, and allowing those with temperature intolerance to wait inside before voting
ADA voting rights protect people with disabilities from having their fundamental right to participate in democracy revoked. There are third-parties that can help you ensure that your polling place meets all ADA requirements. If you want to learn more about providing alternative document formats at your polling place, call us today at 530-7502040 or request a free quote.
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Ash is the Marketing Coordinator at Avantpage, Inc. Ash works to create high-value, targeted content that allows consumers to connect with us at Avantpage. They are a strong proponent of everyone having equal access to communication and information. They have written and created content for a variety of online platforms, and have been published in over 30 online platforms with varying topics. But Ash is other things too! An avid athlete, Ash enjoys spending their free time rock climbing, partaking in aerial circus sports, and practicing acroyoga.