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

NCIL Policy on Disability Voting Rights: Overview

NCIL’s top three voting priorities are: election reform to maintain accessibility in the voting processes; disability engagement in the development of new and innovative voting technology; and ensured accessibility and increased disability participation during the entire election cycle to build electoral power. These will remain essential objectives of our organization and its members until all barriers to the full electoral participation of people with disabilities have been eliminated. NCIL looks forward to the day when Americans with disabilities are a powerful voting bloc.

To reach this goal, we have a multi-tiered grassroots strategy:

  • We will work to train leaders, develop strategic plans, foster collaborations, and provide resources and help for disability community-driven non-partisan voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote campaigns in primaries and general elections at the local, regional, state, and national levels.
  • We will work to improve disability community engagement and accessibility of all policy regulating the voting process; this includes Federal funding to improve accessibility, accuracy, and security in voting.
  • We will advocate with policy makers, technology makers, and election officials to ensure that any new voting technology has been created to serve the most universal access needs of all voters with disabilities.
  • We will work to encourage and recruit people with disabilities to run for public office and hold appointed positions in government.

In order to achieve these ends, we must set a high standard of integrity for the voting process, which must include:

  • the right to read and mark a ballot privately and independently;
  • the right to access reliable and accessible voting technology and equipment;
  • the elimination of difficulty and discriminatory actions and attitudes towards people with disabilities during the registration, education, and voting processes by election volunteers and personnel;
  • the removal of all architectural and physical barriers to polling centers;
  • enforcement by the Justice Department to ensure the rights afforded to all citizens by America’s voting laws are upheld equally for voters with disabilities;
  • the elimination of regressive and discriminatory voter ID laws that require a photo ID to cast a ballot; and
  • the removal of state guardianship laws that continue to be barriers in participation to the entire voting process, from registration to casting a vote, for many people with disabilities.

In addition to these goals and standards, we must work to maintain the access we have achieved so far. We seek to make sure all election officials, campaigns, and organizations engaging in voter education have accessible websites and provide alternative formats for all voter education materials as spelled out in the Americans with Disabilities Act. We support modernizing and improving the nation’s voter registration system, including a robust implementation of the agency-based registration requirements of the National Voter Registration Act.

We promote a strong and vital partnership with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission that continues to improve accessibility of the entire voting process. Finally, we continue to engage the President’s Commission on Election Administration and support its recommendations to increase access and protect equality for voters with disabilities. Details can be found at:

Updated March 5, 2018.