State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Americans With Disabilities Act

Voting Laws Are Disabling The Disabled: Easy Nationwide Fixes To Re-Enfranchise Voters With Disabilities

By August Johannsen

Laws affecting voter participation are a current hot topic in the news. Voter identification, early voting, or redistricting laws are all working their way through the legal system almost certainly on their way to the Supreme Court (if they have not reached the high court already). There are mixed opinions on what these laws do. Supporters insist that the laws protect the integrity of elections by preventing voter fraud. Opponents vehemently argue that the laws are simply pretense for stopping poor and minority voters from exercising their rights at the polls. However, one group of minority voters, voters with disabilities, are severely impacted by election administration laws regarding the accessibility of elections. Their story has been largely ignored in the sound-byte thrusts and parries of the politicos and pundits. Continue reading

A Balancing Act: Maryland’s Online Ballot Marking Tool – An Improvement for Disabled Voters or a Threat to Election Integrity?

By Caitlin Whalan

On Election Day, a voter arrives at her designated polling place, the elementary school located a few miles from her home. Her husband helps her from the car and escorts her in, where there are lines of people anxiously waiting to cast their vote. Upon her arrival, she requests a voting machine with non-visual access. After waiting an hour and a half, a voting machine with non-visual access is finally available, and it is now her turn to vote. She slowly makes her way to the voting machine, using her cane to guide her. Once she is in front of the voting machine, the audio prompts begin, but the words get lost in the background noise, ricocheting from the bare gymnasium floor. She strains to hear the audio prompts emanating from the voting machine. She calls out for a poll worker to help replay the audio prompts. The poll worker comes over to her, but the poll worker is not well trained in accessibility features of the voting machine. After a few tries, he is able to replay the audio prompts, but cannot make them any louder. This time, she concentrates harder, trying to grasp every word of the audio prompt. Still, the noises of gymnasium roar like a freight train in the background. After another strained attempt, she finally completes her ballot, but leaves the gymnasium frustrated and unsure if she cast her vote the way she intended. Continue reading

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