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Voting Accessibility

Introduction

All Wisconsin voters have a right to cast a ballot privately and independently at their polling place on Election Day.  The Government Accountability Board is committed to ensuring that all polling places in Wisconsin are accessible to all voters.  The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires that every polling place in the State of Wisconsin meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standards.  

The G.A.B. conducts audits of polling places around the state for each election and uses the results of those audits to work with municipalities to address identified problems and improve accessibility.  The G.A.B. analyzes and uses information gathered during polling place audits to improve and update clerk and poll worker training materials and voter outreach information.  This data is also used to inform the Wisconsin State Legislature about the barriers that citizens with disabilities face when voting.

2013 Accessibility Report

Date: 
July 2, 2013
Summary: 
Impediments Faced by Elderly Voters and Voters with Disabilities: The G.A.B. is required by state law to file a report every odd-numbered year that documents accessible voting issues for elderly voters and voters with disabilities.

Executive Summary

Getting Assistance with Registering and Voting

If you need help marking your ballot on Election Day, you may take anyone you choose with you into the voting booth, except your employer or your labor union representative.  After you have marked your ballot, the person helping you must then sign the ballot in the space provided.  Also, the election workers will write the name of your assistor on the voting list.  Your assistor does not need to be qualified to vote.

You can also request help with the accessible voting equipment.  Anyone who helps you with a direct-recording electronic accessible voting machine (Edge, iVotronic, Populex or Accuvote) should position themselves behind the machine so that they cannot see how you vote.  They are allowed to explain how the equipment works but cannot assist you with making your ballot choices.

You can also have an assistant when completing a voter registration application or absentee application.  After completing the application, the assistor must then sign the form in the appropriate box and provide any additional required information.  Explaining how to complete the form is not “assistance".

Since 2011, voters in Wisconsin are required to sign the poll list before receiving a ballot.  You are exempt from this requirement if you cannot sign the poll list because of physical disability.  The election inspectors will write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature line and issue you a ballot.

To find the location of your polling place, view a sample ballot, check the status of your voter registration or find contact information for your municipal clerk go to myvote.wi.gov.

Absentee Voting

Any eligible Wisconsin voter can vote by absentee ballot for each election.  Absentee voting can be done by mail or in-person in the clerk’s office.

If you choose to voter an absentee ballot by mail, you must make a request in writing or fill out an absentee ballot request form and send it to your municipal clerk.  You may request an absentee ballot for a specific election or for all elections within a calendar year.

The in-person absentee voting period begins the third Monday before the election and closes the Friday before the election at 5 p.m., or the close of business for the municipal clerk’s office (whichever is later).  All facilities where in-person absentee voting takes place must meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility.  If you require assistance with the voting process you can bring an assistor with you to help you mark your ballot, provided that person is not your employer or your representative in a labor union.

If you have difficulty getting to the polling place and would like to receive an absentee ballot for each election, you can become a permanent absentee voter.  You need to certify on the application that you are “indefinitely confined,” meaning that for reason of age, illness, infirmity or disability you are requesting a ballot for all subsequent elections.   Once you are on the permanent absentee list you will stay there until you are no longer confined or you fail to return a ballot.

Accessible Voting Equipment

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The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates that accessible voting equipment be available at every polling place so that all individuals have the opportunity to vote independently.  The following six accessible voting systems are currently in use in Wisconsin:

Click here to find out which accessible voting system is used at your polling place, or contact your municipal clerk and ask about accessible voting systems.

Curbside Voting

If you cannot enter the polling place or absentee voting location due to disability, curbside voting is available.  Two poll workers will bring you your  ballot and conduct voting at your vehicle or at the polling place entrance.  If you vote curbside, you are not required to sign the poll list.  Instead, the poll workers will write “exempt by order of inspectors” in the signature space on the poll list.

If you vote curbside and need to update you voter registration due to an address or name change, or if you are not currently a registered voter, you may also register to vote curbside with a current and valid Proof of Residence document. Curbside voting is also available during the in-person absentee voting period. If you would like to vote curbside, you should contact your municipal clerk beforehand to discuss and arrival time and what you should do when you get to the voting location.

Voting in Wisconsin: A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities

Posted in
Date: 
May 10, 2013
Summary: 
A publication of the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition
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Voting in WI A Guide for Citizens with Disabilities.pdf192.29 KB