Accessible Voting Systems Are Required by Federal Law and Are Vital to Our Democracy

June 29, 2022
Accessible Voting Systems Are Required by Federal Law and Are Vital to Our Democracy

Voting technologies designed to improve the accessibility of ballot marking, verifying, and casting for all voters are required by federal law. The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and the undersigned organizations declare that any state or jurisdiction that terminates use of an accessible voting system is in clear violation of existing law and is at high risk of litigation.

In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) with the goal of reforming the voting process throughout the United States and making it easier for all Americans to participate in our democracy. HAVA mandates that voters with disabilities have the same opportunity to vote “privately and independently” by requiring that every voting precinct have at least one voting system that is accessible to people with disabilities.[1] Further, a 2019 agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Concord, New Hampshire affirmed that the city violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying use of accessible voting systems during non-federal elections.[2] Together, HAVA and the ADA guarantee a private and independent vote through use of accessible voting technologies to every voter in every federal, state, and local election.[3]

To comply with federal law, avoid litigation, and respect the rights of all voters, states and election jurisdictions must provide the same opportunity for access and participation for people with disabilities, including privacy and independence, that other voters enjoy. Election officials need to maintain voting machines and equipment properly to extend their natural life cycle. Additionally, election officials must adequately train poll workers on how to properly set up and operate the accessible voting systems to minimize technical difficulties and prevent failure to set up voting stations at the polls, and to provide technical specialists to help maintain and troubleshoot equipment.

In addition to these and other required steps to make voting accessible for people with disabilities (including avoiding discriminatory policies, ensuring effective communication, and providing reasonable accommodations), elections administrators should further strive for universal use of accessible voting systems by all voters to prevent the segregation of voters with disabilities at polling places. Increasing the number of accessible voting systems at polling places and vote centers, beyond the one system required by federal law, helps to create a fully integrated voting experience in which all voters use accessible voting technology to cast their ballots.

Accessible voting technologies currently in use for in person voting were designed to ensure that all eligible voters have access to a private and independent ballot. They are required by federal law, and their use is mandated in all local, state, and federal elections. Hand marked paper ballots are not accessible and do not meet the requirements of federal law. People with disabilities have the same right as their fellow Americans to cast a private and independent vote to ensure their voices are heard on every Election Day; it is the responsibility of state and local election officials to make this right a reality.


Access Ready

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

American Council of the Blind

American Foundation for the Blind

Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Autistic People of Color Fund

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)

Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network

Center for Public Representation


Disability Rights Advocates

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

SABE GoVoter Project

Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)

The Arc of the United States

United Spinal Association

[1] Help America Vote Act of 2002

[2] Settlement Agreement Between the United States of America and the City of Concord, New Hampshire under the Americans with Disabilities Act, DJ# 204-47-62

[3] Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 offers similar protections for people with disabilities in programs and services that receive federal funding.