Voting FAQ’s for Individuals with Disabilities

This fact sheet will answer frequently asked questions about the rights of individuals with disabilities who may run into barriers when trying to vote. You can find general information about voting rights and requirements on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.

Who can I call if I have a disability-related voting concern? Disability Rights Ohio operates a voter hotline every Election Day. The hotline is available the same hours that the polls are open. Before an election, you may contact our intake department at 800-282- 9181 on business days between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Can I get assistance with my ballot at the voting booth? Yes. If you need assistance because of your disability (for example, you are unable to physically mark your ballot, or you have a mental disability and need guidance), you may bring someone with you to help you vote. You may ask anyone to help you vote, except your employer, an agent of your employer, an agent of your union, or a political candidate on the ballot. You also may ask for assistance from two precinct election officials from each of the major political parties. No one who helps you vote can tell you how you must vote or provide information to others about how you voted.

Is my voting location accessible for people with disabilities? Federal and state laws protect the right to vote for people with disabilities. Voting locations must be free of barriers to enter and exit and must have ramps, wide doors, and accessible parking for people with disabilities. At any location that is exempt from accessibility requirements, curbside voting must be offered to people with disabilities who are unable to enter the polling location. That means two election officials from the two major political parties will bring a ballot to the individual. Also, voting machines must be accessible to people who are blind or have other limitations. If your voting location is not accessible, you should contact Disability Rights Ohio.

Am I allowed to vote even though I have a guardian? Yes, having a guardian does not mean you cannot vote. Before your right to vote is taken away a probate court must declare that you are incompetent for voting purposes. We have the legal right of way.

What are the different ways in which I can cast a ballot? You can vote in person at your polling location between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. You need to make sure you are at the correct precinct and polling location, which is based on your current address; otherwise, your vote will not be counted. You should bring current and valid photo identification (driver’s license or state identification card) with you or a copy of a current utility bill, a bank statement, a paycheck, or government document (other than a notice from a county board of elections) that shows your name and current address. By law, a person with a disability can take as much time as needed to cast a ballot. Although you have the right to vote in person, you can also request an absentee ballot to be sent to you by mail so that you never have to leave your home. Some people find this more convenient, although others enjoy the experience of voting in person. There is also a period of time in the weeks before Election Day in which you can vote early. Each county has a different location where you can vote early, but usually it is at the county board of elections.

Can I vote if I live in a nursing home, hospital or other facility? Yes. You can vote in person or by absentee ballot, as described above. Alternatively, you can send a form requesting assistance with your ballot. This form is available on the website of the Ohio Secretary of State, and on this form you must describe the nature of your illness or disability and your inability to travel to the voting location on Election Day. The request must be delivered before noon the Saturday before Election Day. Two elected officials of different political parties from the county board of elections will then deliver a ballot to you and return it to the board of elections. If you need to register to vote first, you can talk to the client’s rights advocate, social worker, or patient representative to request a registration form, which must be submitted to the county board of elections at least 30 days before Election Day.

If I am a registered voter who is in a hospital on voting day, how do I arrange to vote? If you are unable to travel to the voting booth in your precinct on Election Day because you or your minor child are confined in a hospital as a result of an accident or unforeseeable medical emergency occurring before the election, you may apply to the county board of elections to vote by absentee ballot. You must submit this written absentee request by 3 p.m. on Election Day. You can request that a family member deliver the absentee ballot to you, or you can have two county board of election officials from different political parties deliver the ballot to you and return it to the board of elections. If you are hospitalized in a different county than the one in which you are registered to vote, you can request that your home county board of elections send the your absentee ballot (by fax or email, for example) to the county board of elections where you are hospitalized as a reasonable accommodation for your disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If this type of situation arises, you should contact Disability Rights Ohio immediately.

If you have any further questions regarding your voting rights, please contact your SSA by calling 740-773-8044.

VOTING RIGHTS: Frequently Asked Questions for People with Disabilities Disability Rights Ohio 50 W. Broad St., Suite 1400 Columbus, Ohio 43215-5923 614-466-7264 or 800-282-9181 FAX 614-644-1888 TTY 614-728-2553 or 800-858-3542 Ohio Disability Rights Law and Policy Center, Inc. disabilityrightsohio.org

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