By Erin Vallely, ATI Advocacy Specialist
August 26, 2022
Ahead of National Disability Voter Right’s Week from September 12th-16th, ATI is encouraging everyone to make a plan to vote this November. It is important to vote in elections because government officials make decisions that significantly impact our community and lives in every area. High voter-turnout also helps hold elected officials accountable to the people they represent. Unfortunately, many disabled people still face structural and policy-based barriers that make it difficult to vote. For this reason, it is important to understand the laws that protect people’s right to vote.
VOTING LAWS AND RIGHTS
Voting Rights Act (1965) – This law grants disabled individuals the right to receive assistance when voting. An assistant can be someone the disabled person knows or bipartisan poll workers they do not know. The assistant(s) must sign a piece of paper promising to not influence a disabled person’s decision.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973) – Although not specific to voting rights, this law prohibits public entities receiving federal funding from discriminating against people with disabilities. These laws apply voter registration systems and processes, access to mail-in ballots, polling places, and the voting process.
Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (1984) – At least one polling place in each voting district must be accessible to elderly and disabled individuals. If a location is inaccessible, voters must be provided with an alternate way of voting on Election Day, such as using an absentee ballot outside the polling place.
Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) – The second section of the law requires state and local governments to ensure that disabled people have an equal opportunity to vote. These provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including voter registration, polling sites, and the casting of ballots, on Election Day and during early voting.
National Voter Registration Act (1993) – All organizations and offices that provide public assistance are required to ask people if they want to register to vote. If you want more information about voting, you can ask any disability services or federal agency for help registering to vote.
Help America Vote Act (2002) – Each federal election polling place is required to have at least one accessible voting system. The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive. These are special electronic ballot marking devices.
With over 2,370,500 disabled New Yorkers, our votes matter to the outcomes of elections. Ensuring you are registered and have a voting plan are essential steps in exercising your right to vote. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you are ready to vote on or before November 8th.
- Register or update your registration to vote at https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/
- Locate your polling place at https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/
- Search your home address to find a sample example of your ballot at https://ballotpedia.org/Sample_Ballot_Lookup