Accessible Elections: Voting Assistance

Voting Assistance

Young woman polling volunteer assisting senior citizen with election voting machine.

  • Voters with disabilities may request assistance from poll workers for help with using ballot marking devices.
     
  • As a poll worker, you may also provide other types of assistance, such as helping a voter with limited hand dexterity to place their ballot in the ballot box. 
     

Man with Down's Syndrome

  • Be careful not to judge a person’s ability to vote based upon their appearance, physical abilities, or if they need reading and writing assistance.
     
  • If a voter is having difficulty understanding you, try saying your instructions in a different way, instead of repeating the same sentence over and over. Also, try showing the voter what you mean while speaking.  For example, point to the line where you want them to sign, while explaining the procedure.
     
  • People with disabilities may have voting issues that are not related to disability.  These situations should be treated in the same manner as they would for any other citizen.  For instance, if a citizen who is blind did not register before the election, the issue at hand is voter registration--not disability. 

Best Practice:

Make a chair available if a voter has fatigue or difficulty standing in a long line.


When a Voter has Accessibility Complaints

If a voter with a disability informs you there is a problem that limits their ability to vote, for example, a ballot marking device that is not working correctly—don’t take this as a personal criticism of yourself or the polling place.  

Remain courteous and friendly and follow through on getting the voter whatever assistance is needed to ensure their ability to vote.  Generally, these types of issues are handled by polling workers notifying local election officials of the complaint. 

A voter with a disability may inform you that they plan to file a formal complaint based on issues such as inaccessible facilities or ballot marking devices. Remember, it is their right to do so and not a personal reflection on poll workers.  Filing a complaint is one way to improve future voting accessibility.