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

Election Assistance Commission Voting Guidelines Fail Disability Community

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is disappointed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) recent adoption of the Voluntary Voting System Guideline (VVSG) 2.0 Requirements. The adopted VVSG 2.0 requirements ignored the recommendations made by the disability community to:

  • ensure accessible remote voting,
  • prohibit segregated in-person voting,
  • and require a reasonable voting system upgrade schedule so that voters with disabilities are not expected to use old, inaccessible ballot marking devices for decades to come.

As a result, VVSG 2.0 does not ensure a private and independent ballot for all voters in a non-discriminatory manner. 

The extensive security requirements in VVSG 2.0 require the use of a voter-verified paper printed ballot. The requirements also limit remote voting to blank ballot delivery. These requirements create major barriers to ensuring accessibility for all in-person and remote voting options. 

“While voters with disabilities are legally entitled to mark, verify and cast their ballots privately and independently, VVSG 2.0 will not ensure that right becomes a reality” said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director of NCIL. “The disability community has been promised for over a decade that paper ballots can and will be made fully accessible, yet we have not seen that happen. VVSG 2.0 does nothing to ensure fully accessible voting systems will be available in a timely manner, or that they will be deployed in a non-discriminatory way for in-person and remote voting.  While NCIL supports the need for secure elections, we are deeply troubled by the EAC’s decision to not address the negative impact the VVSG 2.0 security requirements will have on accessibility.  Voters with disabilities should not be asked to sacrifice their fundamental right to vote privately and independently in the name of security.” 

The VVSG 2.0 will be used by voting system manufacturers to develop future products for the next decade or longer. Unfortunately, the new standards will not create meaningful improvement in voting accessibility. Instead, they will pave the way for segregation and discrimination against Americans with disabilities.