Disability Access and Voting Technology
While voting technology affects all who participate in elections, people with disabilities are deeply intertwined with the effort to develop and implement more accessible voting methods.
In addition to issues that make it harder for those with disabilities to reach a polling place such as lack of transportation and social isolation, the method of voting can present yt another challenge.
Ensuring that people have access to large print, audio, personal assistance and off-site voting is an essential part of keeping the voting process open and fair to all. Technology is a key part of this, which is why precincts that use paper ballots must also offer a system that allows electronic marking.
Although not all voters with disabilities require non-traditional machines, the Help America Vote Act specifically requires that at least one fully accessible voting machine must be available at each polling place. Advancements in voting technology should certainly benefit the population as a whole, but must especially focus on empowering people with disabilities.
Minnesota Disability Access
In Minnesota, there are multiple approaches to make voting more accessible to people with disabilities:
- Assistance marking a ballot from an election judge or any other chosen person is available as long as there is no conflict of interest
- AutoMARK devices, which allow for electronic marking and large print ballots, must be available at every polling place
- Curbside voting allows those who cannot leave their car to have election materials delivered to them by two election judges from different political parties
- Polling places must meet American with Disabilities Act accessibility guidelines