Voters With a Disability

ACLU of Ohio Vote Center

Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act is 25 years old, we have a long way to go. People with disabilities still face discrimination in housing, employment, education, and especially with voting. If you are an Ohioan with a disability, you have the right to vote. The ACLU of Ohio fights for your right to vote free of any barriers.

Are you Deaf or hard of hearing? Check out our resources page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Voter seated at table
  1. Am I eligible to vote if I have a disability? What if I have a guardian? A mental disability?
  1. Will my polling place be physically accessible? Is there curbside voting?
  1. What if I need help at the polls?
  1. What machines can I use? Will these machines be accessible?
  1. Can I vote if I am in a nursing home, hospital, or other facility?
  1. What if I am unable to sign my voter registration form or other election documents?
  1. May my power of attorney sign my name to my voter registration application?
  1. What if I need an American Sign Language Interpreter?
  1. I still have concerns. Where should I turn?

 

Am I eligible to vote if I have a disability? What if I have a guardian? What if I have a mental disability?

YES! If you are at least 18-years-old and a U.S. citizen, you have the right to vote. Even if you have a guardian, you can still vote. If you have a mental disability, you can still vote.

The only time you may NOT be able to vote is if a judge in probate court decided that you do not have the capacity to vote. This is different than appointing guardianship. Check out voter eligibility in Ohio.

 

Will my polling place be accessible? Is there curbside voting?

All voting places MUST be physically accessible for people with disabilities (unless an exemption is granted).  Contact your local board of elections to ensure your polling place is accessible. If your polling place is not accessible, let the ACLU of Ohio know. You can ask the board of elections to reassign you to an accessible voting location or to give you another way to vote on Election Day.

At any polling place that is exempt from the accessibility requirements, if you have a disability and are unable to enter the polling place, you may vote curbside. Two precinct election officials from the major political parties will bring a ballot to you. You may sit in your car and vote or you may vote at the door of the building.

Accommodations can be requested at any time during the voting process. To request real-time captioning, ASL interpreter, material in large print, or other accommodations, please contact your local board of elections. Providing at least 72 hours advance notice will help to ensure availability.

 

What if I need help at the polls?

You can bring someone into the voting booth if you need help to vote because of your disability. You can bring anyone you want, except: The person cannot be your employer or employer’s agent, someone from your local labor union, or a candidate whose name appears on the ballot. You can ask for help from the poll workers where you vote. By law, no one who helps you vote can tell you how to mark your ballot or provide information to others about how you voted.

Accommodations can be requested at any time during the voting process. To request real-time captioning, ASL interpreter, material in large print, or other accommodations, please contact your local board of elections. Providing at least 72 hours advance notice will help to ensure availability.

 

What machines can I use? Will these machines be accessible?

Each Ohio polling location is required to have a voting machine that is accessible to people with disabilities.  When a person with a disability arrives at a polling location, he or she should let the poll worker know whether they would like to use the ADA-compliant voting machines, though you don’t have to. It’s your choice.

The machine(s) specific for people with disabilities includes features like audio ballots, Braille touch pads, large print/zoom features, and height and tilt adjustments on the screens. Watch videos about how to use voting machines.

Accommodations can be requested at any time during the voting process. To request real-time captioning, ASL interpreter, material in large print, or other accommodations, please contact your local board of elections. Providing at least 72 hours advance notice will help to ensure availability.

 

Can I vote if I am in a nursing home, hospital, or other facility?

YES! You can vote by mail, known as absentee; you can vote in-person either early at your local vote center or at your polling location on Election Day; or you can send a form requesting assistance with your ballot. The county board of elections can deliver a ballot to you. Two election officials of different political parties will deliver and return the ballot. Even if you are hospitalized unexpectedly on Election Day, you may apply to your local board of elections to vote by absentee ballot, regardless of whether you are hospitalized in your home county. You must submit the absentee ballot request form by 3 p.m. on Election Day. Contact your local board of elections for details. Make sure to register at least 30 days before an election by talking to your client rights advocate, social worker, or patient representative to assist you in requesting a form. Refer to our “Three Step Guide to Voting.”

 

What if I am unable to sign my voter registration form or other election documents?

You can make an “X,” if possible, on the application signature line. The person who witnessed you making the mark must write his or her name beneath the signature line. If you are unable to make an “X,” you must indicate in some manner to the person assisting you that you want to register to vote. The person registering you must sign the application form and attest that you indicated that you want to register.  Check out our “Step-by-Step Guide to Voting.”

 

May my power of attorney sign my name to my voter registration application?

No. However, if you are unable to physically sign your name or mark the application, you may appoint an “attorney-in-fact” in accordance with R.C. 3501.382 who may then sign a voter registration application on your behalf, but only at your direction and in your presence. Contact your local board of elections for proper forms.

 

What if I need an American Sign Language Interpreter?
Polling places located in areas with a large deaf population should make qualified sign language interpreters available and share this information with the deaf and hard of hearing community. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, qualified interpreters are those who are “able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.”  Someone who “knows a little sign” is not qualified. If you need assistance, you can request it. For more information, watch ASL with captioning videos on what you need to know to vote in Ohio.

Accommodations can be requested at any time during the voting process. To request real-time captioning, ASL interpreter, material in large print, or other accommodations, please contact your local board of elections. Providing at least 72 hours advance notice will help to ensure availability.

 

I still have concerns. Where should I turn?
Contact the Ohio Secretary of State’s ADA Coordinator. You can also contact these organizations if you have problems casting a ballot.

 

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