Frontline Initiative: Advocacy and Voting

Voting With a Disability: Breaking Down Barriers to the Ballot


Brian Dimmick is Senior Staff Attorney with ACLU's Disability Rights Program. Brian can be reached at

Aaron Madrid Aksoz is the Media Engagement Strategist at ACLU. Aaron can be reached at

A sidewalk sign placed on the curb by parking spots, says “Voters, Can’t leave your car? Park Here. Election judges are monitoring and will approach, but call 651-275-3113 if you are waiting. You cannot return your absentee ballot at a polling place on election day. Ramsey County, Minnesota.

With accessible voting under attack, we’re bringing people with disabilities the information they need to vote.

Aaron is looking at the camera with a smile. Aaron is wearing a clear plastic framed square glasses, a black long sleeve button-down shirt with white / gray roses and other flowers, with a white t-shirt under it. Aaron has black sort hair, a beard and mustache.

Aaron Madrid Aksoz

People with disabilities have long faced some of the greatest barriers to voting in our elections. From inaccessible polling places and a lack of working accessible voting machines to onerous restrictions on absentee voting, our right to the ballot has often been ignored or forgotten.

In 2022, over 14 percent PDF of voters with disabilities reported that they faced some type of difficulty casting a ballot — more than any other group and despite expanded access to mail-in voting in some states in recent years. But instead of embracing more accessible forms of voting, since 2020 states have doubled down on new and more restrictive voter suppression laws.

Since 2021, state lawmakers have introduced hundreds of anti-voter bills , including at least 325 in 2023 alone, many of which are most burdensome to people of color and voters with disabilities. Fourteen states in 2023 enacted new restrictions on the right to vote. These measures run the gamut from restricting access to voting by mail , to restricting drop boxes, to criminalizing the act of assisting voters with disabilities to vote. We’re challenging some of the measures that have become law in court in Georgia , Ohio , Mississippi , and Texas , where egregious restrictions illegally burden the right to vote for people with disabilities.

Amid new complicated rules, it’s more important than ever that every voter knows their rights and can find resources about how to vote, including voting absentee and curing a ballot if it’s rejected.

Whether you choose to vote in person early or on Election Day, or vote absentee, you’ll have to navigate a complex web of state and local election rules and deadlines regarding voter registration, absentee ballots, and fixing or “curing” a ballot that was rejected, often due to missing or incorrect information.

Register to vote or check your registration helps you quickly register to vote if you haven’t already. Register early, as some states require you to register to vote 30 days or more before an election.

If you’re already registered, double check that your registration, including current address, is up to date .

Brian is looking at the camera, has short grayish brown hair and blue eyes. He is wearing large round dark plastic rimmed glasses and a plaid shirt with various colors of blues, pink, and gray.

Brian Dimmick

Request an absentee ballot

All U.S. states and Washington, D.C. permit people with an illness or disability to vote absentee, allowing you to mail in your ballot or drop it off at a drop box or polling location.

Similar to voter registration, each state has its own set of deadlines and rules for voting absentee. Check out the deadlines here on . Some states require you to complete an application in order to receive an absentee ballot, and the deadline to apply may be as early as two weeks before the election. New laws may require you to provide proof of ID to request an absentee ballot.

You can find information about how to request an absentee ballot in your state using this tool from the National Association of Secretaries of State . Pick your state from the drop down menu and it will open a page or document with instructions on how to request an absentee ballot.

VoteAmerica , , and the Election Protection Hotline have additional resources and information.

Cast your ballot, and make sure it’s counted

If you plan to vote in person or return your absentee ballot in a drop box, locate your polling place or drop box . Many states do not allow you to vote in person at a location that is not designated as your assigned precinct. Check to see if your state requires an ID to vote in person.

If you plan to submit your ballot by mail, send it at least a week before the election to be sure it arrives by Election Day. Your absentee ballot will likely require you to sign the ballot and/or ballot envelope, and may require one or more witnesses to sign as well. Your ballot will be rejected if the signature is missing.

Once your ballot is in, use your state’s ballot tracker to see if it’s been counted. Ballots may be rejected if there is a missing signature on the ballot envelope or a discrepancy in the signature matching process, or if your voter file is missing identifying information like your social security number or driver's license number. One in eight mail-in ballots were rejected in the Texas primary election in 2022, so make sure your voter file is up to date with all the required information.

If your ballot is rejected, 30 states will allow you to correct your ballot in a process known as “curing.” These states are required to notify you via mail, phone, or email that your ballot has been rejected and you need to correct it.

Most states will notify you within days of the election if your ballot has been rejected, and you will be given between three days and two weeks to prove your identity for your ballot to be counted.

Know your rights at the polling place

Federal law , including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Voting Rights Act, require election workers to:

  • Make polling places fully accessible to voters with disabilities.
  • Have at least one voting system at each polling place that allows people with disabilities to vote privately and independently.
  • Allow voters with disabilities to receive in-person help at the polls (except from an agent of your employer or union).
  • Make other reasonable accommodations if possible for them to do so.

Read more about your rights as a voter with a disability here .

Get help if you need it

If you need more information about voting, or want to report voter suppression or intimidation, contact the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).

This article is updated and reprinted with permission: Aaron Madrid Aksoz and Brian Dimmick (2022, October 26). Voting with A Disability: Breaking Down Barriers to the Ballot.

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