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In 2020, voters with disabilities turned out in force in one of the most consequential elections in U.S. history.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 62 percent of disabled voters cast a ballot in the November 2020 election.

2020’s high turnout is demonstrative of disabled voters’ unwavering resolve to make their voices heard and to fully participate in American democracy.

However, an estimated 1.95 million people with disabilities had trouble voting in the 2020 election.

In the 2020 election, disabled Americans were roughly 7 percentage points less likely than nondisabled people to participate after adjusting for age.

Finding accurate voting information can still be a challenging process for these populations.

Recent election related statistics

  • One of the common problems that vision impaired people encountered was that the election-related news online was not accessible.
  • Inaccessible election websites were not compatible with screen readers, lacked alt text for images, and lacked keyboard-only navigation.

Laws around Accessibility and Elections

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to provide accessible voting aids and services including accessible websites and digital content (such as PDFs, Word, etc.,) to voters with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities.

Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)

HAVA has helped in establishing the U.S Election Assistance Commission (EAC). With this act, all Americans with disabilities will be given equal opportunity to vote as freely and independently as other voters.

Recent improvements cities have made to improve accessible voting

City of Madison talks accessibility at the polls

The city of Madison is working to make sure every eligible voter has options when it comes to casting their ballot this November.

To name a few, the city offers curb-side voting, ballot marking machines, and assistance for people who need help physically marking their ballots.

Municipal Clerk Maggie McClain said the city also uses guidance from Disability Rights Wisconsin to complete a polling place checklist and to make sure special machines are set up properly.

She also said poll workers would benefit from more education on the support they can offer and that even when accommodations are made there’s still room for improvement when comes to privacy and booth placement.

There are also state requirements in place that govern election day accessibility specifically focused on equipment set up and way-finding.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission also monitors and provides feedback for improvement through accessibility auditors.

The city has also run a number of mock elections with special voting equipment for voters with disabilities to become familiarized with it.

Source: Channel 3000

Minnesota Elections: Accessible, Secure, Accurate

The future of communities is shaped by elections. Around 90% of eligible voters in Minnesota are registered.

The State of Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout year-after-year. It is rightly recognised as a national leader in free, fair, and secure elections.

The three pillars that make Minnesota’s elections stand out are: Accessibility, Security, and Accuracy.

Accessibility – Make it easy to register to vote before or even on election day. Using an online tool, voters can register in just a few taps.

On election day, voters can head to their local polling place to cast their votes.

Security: When an eligible voter registers to vote, they must prove their identity and place of residence. During the registration process, local county and state election officials check a voter’s information using state and federal databases to prevent duplicate registrations.

Election equipment is certified by federal and state experts and tested before each elections.

Throughout the 46-day voting period election officials work to ensure only eligible voters cast their ballots and no one can vote more than once.

Accuracy: After election day, local election officials check each ballot and verify that each vote is cast by an eligible voter and the ballot is counted correctly.

County canvassing boards meet to confirm and certify the election results. After that, a state canvassing board reviews those findings and meets to confirm and certify the results. Then, Minnesota counties conduct an additional post-election audit.

During this process, a sample of precincts and counties are selected to hand-count ballots, and ensure that their equipment worked accurately.

After the certification and audits are complete, the voter records are updated to ensure voters cast only one ballot.

Minnesota is always committed to conduct free, fair, accurate, and secure elections.

Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

New accessible vote-by-mail ballot option for voters with disabilities

The Supervisor of Elections, Maureen Baird, introduces a new, accessible Vote-by-Mail ballot option for voters with disabilities.

Accessible elections are part of the elections office mission, and the goal is to ensure that all voters have access to every voting option allowed by Florida law.

Enhanced Ballot allows voters with disabilities to interact with their Vote-by-Mail ballot using screen reader technology and accessibility tools.

This gives voters the ability to access and mark their ballot choices, without assistance from another person, in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

Source: Citrus County Chronicle online

Benefits of Accessibility in Elections

  • Ensures voting is accessible to all and thereby increases voter turnout.
  • Staying compliant and avoiding costly lawsuits.
  • Disabled voters are up-to-date with all election-related information via websites, digital documents etc.

Conclusion

Election officials have an obligation to conduct accessible, secure, fair elections. They have to ensure their voting information is ADA compliant and also ensure voting information is available to all their constituents.

About codemantra

codemantra is a global leader in Intelligent Document Processing. Its AI-powered platform automates digital document accessibility compliance, captures, and extracts actionable insights from raw data, and transforms documents into any desired digital format.

codemantra has consistently helped state government agencies to make their time-critical documents accessible compliant at scale.

How codemantra can help?

  • Compliance at scale – stay 100% compliant with our AI technology in minutes
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