Myths About Voting and Voters with Disabilities
Secretary LaRose is committed to truth and transparency. Now more than ever, Ohioans need to know the facts. Whether they are voting in-person on Election Day, early at their county board of elections, or making their voice heard through the mail, Ohioans can feel confident in understanding the truth about voting and voting as a person with a disability.
If you cannot mark your ballot or if you need assistance because of your disability, you may bring someone with you to help you vote, or you may ask for assistance from precinct election officials. You may ask anyone to help you vote, except for the following people:
- Your employer
- An agent of your employer
- An agent of your union
- Any candidate whose name appears on the ballot in your precinct.
You may also get help in marking your ballot from precinct election officials from two different political parties. By law, no one who helps you vote can tell you how to mark your ballot or provide information to others about how you voted. (R.C. 3505.24)
All absentee ballots that are received on time and meet Ohio's legal requirements will be counted and included in the official election returns.
In Ohio, all voting locations must be made accessible for people with disabilities. Under state and federal law, voters with disabilities must be given the same opportunity for access and participation as any other voter.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from receiving unequal treatment within state and local government services, programs, and activities. (ADA, Title II) This law protects your right to vote by making sure that voters with disabilities have access to:
- Accessible parking
- An accessible route to the entrance
- An accessible entrance
- An accessible route to the voting area
- Voting procedures
- Voting machines
The Help American Vote Act (HAVA) protects the right of people with disabilities to vote by making sure that:
- Voting locations are easy to get to and to use.
- People who are blind or have problems seeing get the help they need.
- Voting is private and personal.
- Each polling location has an accessible voting machine.
Ohio law protects your right to vote by requiring:
- Voting locations to be free of any barriers to entrances or exits.
- Voting locations to have ramps, wide doors, and accessible parking.
Having a guardian does not take away a person's right to vote. As long as you meet eligibility requirements and have not been declared incompetent for voting purposes by a probate court, you are qualified to register and vote.
If a person has a disability and is confined to a public or private institution, the county board of elections can deliver a ballot to them. Two election officials of different political parties will deliver the ballot and return the ballot to the board of elections. Voting with a mail-in absentee ballot is also an option. Contact your local board of elections to receive details regarding their process.
In Ohio, voters do not need to state a reason to vote absentee. Absentee voting is an option for all Ohio registered voters. A ballot can be requested by mail or voted in person at a county board of elections or the designated early voting location.
The Help America Vote Act requires each polling location to have one voting machine that is accessible for people with disabilities, including non-visual accessibility for the blind and visually-impaired.
In Ohio, every polling location is required to have a voting machine that is accessible to individuals with disabilities. These machines include features like audio ballots, Braille touch pads, large print/zoom features, and height and tilt adjustments on the screens. When you arrive at your polling location, please let the poll workers know if you would like to use the ADA compliant voting machines.
All voters must bring acceptable identification to the polls in order to verify identity. Acceptable identification includes a current and valid photo identification; military identification; or a copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill (including cell phone bill), bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document, other than a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by the board of elections, that shows the voter's name and current address.
Even though a "Power of Attorney" cannot sign your name to your voter registration, if by reason of disability you are unable to physically sign your name or affix your mark to the application, you may appoint an "attorney-in-fact" in accordance with the specific requirements of R.C. 3501.382. Your attorney-in-fact then may sign a voter registration application on your behalf, but only at your direction and in your presence. Contact your county board of elections or the Secretary of State's office for the proper forms necessary to designate an "attorney-in-fact" for this purpose.
If you are unable to sign your own name and have no other legal mark, make an "X," if possible, on the application signature line. The person who witnessed you making that mark must write his or her name beneath the signature line.
If you are unable to make an "X," you must indicate in some manner to the person assisting you that you want to register to vote. The person registering you must sign the application form and attest that you indicated that you want to register to vote.
Generally, signing or affixing a signature to an election-related document requires a person’s written, cursive-style legal mark written in that person’s own hand. However, a voter with a disability may personally affix his or her signature through the use of a reasonable accommodation, including the use of assistive technology or an augmentative device such as a signature stamp. See R.C. 3501.011, 3501.382(F) and related OAG 2015-012.
At any polling place that is exempt from the accessibility requirements, if you have a disability and are unable to enter the polling place, you may vote curbside. Two precinct election officials from the major political parties will bring a ballot to you. You may sit in your car and vote, or you may vote at the door of the building.