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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Ask Your Representatives to Oppose H.R. 1’s Paper Ballot Mandate

In January, Congressional Democrats introduced H.R. 1, the For the People Act. This broad legislation addresses many areas of democracy reform, including voting rights, election security, and voting accessibility. While there are many positive provisions in the legislation, the National Council on Independent Living and other disability rights organizations are concerned about a requirement for voter-verified paper ballots. Paper ballots are not accessible to many voters with disabilities and can limit the right to a private and independent ballot.

Last week, NCIL joined 19 other national disability rights organizations in signing onto a statement by the National Disability Rights Network expressing concerns over a paper ballot mandate. This statement laid out the disability community’s concerns that the paper ballot mandate would:

  • End all voting system innovation and advancement to produce a fully accessible voting system that provides enhanced security without relying on inaccessible paper
  • Limit voters with disabilities’ federal right to privately and independently verify and cast their ballots
  • Segregate voters with disabilities

Read the full statement: “Disability Community Fears Paper Ballot Mandate Will Hurt Voters with Disabilities

H.R. 1 Section 1502 requires that voting machines use “an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot.” It also requires that voters are given the option to mark their ballot by hand, which further limits the availability of ballot marking devices for people with disabilities. This will further segregate voters with disabilities who must use ballot-marking devices. Furthermore, it will increase the likelihood that poll workers will not be properly trained on how to use ballot-marking devices. Poll workers will also be expected to decide who is “disabled enough” to use a ballot-marking device, although they do not have the legal right or qualifications to make that decision.

Take Action: Contact your Representative to tell them to oppose the paper ballot mandate in H.R. 1, as it will limit disabled voters’ right to a private and independent ballot.

  • Call your Representative. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). Ask to be connected to your Representative.
  • You can find your Representative’s contact form at house.gov/representatives.
  • You can find your Representative’s phone numbers, Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and other contact information on Contacting Congress.
  • You can use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters by texting “RESIST” to 50409.

SAMPLE SCRIPT:

Hi, my name is (NAME), and I’m from (CITY, STATE).

I am (calling / writing) to urge you to oppose the paper ballot mandate in H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Paper ballots are not accessible to many people with disabilities and can limit the right to a private and independent vote. A paper ballot mandate would limit access to necessary ballot marking devices and further segregate voters with disabilities who use them.

Thank you for your time. I hope I can count on you to protect your disabled constituents’ voting rights.

(Your name)

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL OR EMAILING: please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call or email is tallied.]

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