Skip to navigation Skip to content

Your right to vote and polling place accessibility

Share

In this article
“Voting is the first act of building a community, as well as building a country.”
~ American author John Ensign

Overview

Election information varies by state – due to the impact of COVID-19 states may change their election dates or procedures. Please check your state board of election website for the most up to date information.

2020 Primary Election Changes
Alabama Run-off election for state primary postponed from March 31 to July 14.
Connecticut Presidential primary postponed from April 28 to August 11 (previously postponed to June 2).
Delaware Presidential primary postponed from April 28 to July 7 (previously postponed to June 2). Registered voters will receive absentee ballot applications. 
Georgia Presidential primary postponed from March 24 to June 9 (previously postponed to May 19), and everyone is getting absentee ballot request forms in the mail.
Hawaii Cancelled in-person voting for presidential primary and extended the deadline for mail-in ballots from April 4 to May 22.
Idaho Primary will be conducted mainly through absentee voting; new online portal to request absentee ballots.
Indiana Presidential and state primaries are postponed from May 5 to June 2.
Iowa All voters will receive an absentee voter ballot request form. 
Kansas In-person voting has been canceled for May 2 presidential primary, and the primary will be held entirely by mail.
Kentucky Presidential and state primaries are postponed from May 19 to June 23. All registered voters can request an absentee ballot through online portal.
Louisiana Presidential primary postponed from April 4 to July 11 (previously postponed to June 20)
Maine State Primary postponed from June 9 to July 14. All voters are allowed to request an absentee ballot.
Maryland Presidential and state primaries are postponed from April 28 to June 2.Voters will receive absentee ballots through the mail.
Missouri Municipal elections postponed from April 7 to June 2.
Nebraska Voters will receive early mail-in ballot request applications for upcoming primary. 
Nevada Voters will be mailed ballots for upcoming primary.
New Hampshire Any voter who has concerns about in-person voting can request an absentee ballot for any election this year, including general election in November. 
New York Presidential primary postponed from April 28 to June 23. Voters are able to request an absentee ballot due to concern for public health risk. Absentee ballot applications will be sent to registered voters.
North Carolina State primary runoff postponed from May 12 to June 23.
 Ohio Presidential and state primaries postponed from March 17 to April 28. No in person voting; citizens must print and mail absentee ballot request from home. An absentee ballot will be mailed to them and must be postmarked by April 28 to be counted. The ballot must be completed accurately for the vote to count. 
Oklahoma Local elections (April 7) postponed.
Pennsylvania Providing mail in ballots to all qualified voters for 2020 primary (April 28) and general elections.
Rhode Island Presidential primary postponed from April 28 to June 2. All voters will receive a mail ballot application for their upcoming primary. 
South Dakota All voters will receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail.  
Texas State runoff election postponed from May 26 to July 14
Virginia Concerns relating to COVID-19 will qualify as an excuse to request an absentee ballot for upcoming elections. 
West Virginia State and presidential primary postponed from May 12 to June 9. Each voter will receive an application to vote absentee, and will need to return to county clerk to receive a ballot through the mail.

In recent presidential election years, only about 60% of the eligible population has voted; the voter turnout rate of people with disabilities is nearly 6% lower than that of other Americans. Currently more than 1 out of 7 eligible voters lives with a disability.

Whether you live with a disability or not, it is important to exercise your right to vote. Easily access registration, deadlines and voting information — alphabetical by state — here. While you're at it: Disclaimer: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the National MS Society does not participate or intervene in any political campaigns for public office, endorse or oppose political candidates, publish or distribute statements relating to a political campaign, or donate money or time to political campaigns. Nothing contained on this webpage or communications should be interpreted to be an endorsement or participation by the Society in a political campaign.

Know your rights

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. Yet for too long, many people with disabilities have been excluded from this core aspect of citizenship. Read more about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws protecting the rights of voters with disabilities.

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Voter registration

In order for you to cast your ballot, the usual criteria apply:

  • you must be a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 and
  • in compliance with state laws on residency, felony status and mental competency.
You can register to vote online and get ahead of the curve before National Voter Registration Day — September 24, 2019.

The voter registration rate of people with disabilities is about 2% lower than other Americans (2012 report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and Research Alliance for Accessible Voting).

Exercise your right: by mail or in person

Will you vote in person? By mail? Find out what’s required to vote in your state.

  • Citizens in 30 states must comply with voter identification laws (requiring identity documentation) when voting in person.
  • Nine states require voters to include a photocopy of their identification when voting by mail or absentee ballot.
  • Voters in the remaining 18 states (and the District of Columbia) do not need to provide ID documents when voting in person or by absentee ballot.
One in every three voters will vote early or absentee (by mail), and these votes carry the same weight. Learn more at Long Distance Voter.

If you plan to vote in person, look into your polling place’s accessibility in advance.

Polling place accessibility

Since 2002, the Help America Vote Act has required every precinct in the country to have at least one voting machine or system accessible to people with disabilities including vision impairments. Access must be equal to the privacy and independence afforded to all other voters. For more information on voting accessibility, visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Despite legal obligations to ensure that people with disabilities are not prevented from voting, barriers unfortunately remain. But you can begin a conversation about voting access in your community with an amicable demeanor and willingness to work with local officials — no specialized training is needed.

If you plan to vote in person and have specific accessibility concerns, visit your polling place well before Election Day. Call ahead to arrange your visit. Voting places are often located:
  • In public buildings like community centers; you can likely visit any time. When you call ahead, find a time when your visit won’t interrupt other activities in the building.
  • In schools or fire stations where access may be restricted. When you call ahead, explain who you are (a registered voter with accessibility concerns) and what you need (to visit in advance to ensure you will be able to vote in person on Election Day).
Bring the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places with you on your visit, and make note of anything that might make it difficult to locate or enter the building (include areas such as the parking lot and sidewalks/doorways to the building), or to cast a ballot. If something needs attention or adjustment prior to Election Day, approach your local polling officials with a positive and collaborative attitude.

Election Protection is a nonpartisan coalition formed to ensure that all voters have equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Contact: 866-OUR-VOTE or help@866ourvote.org

Share


© 2020 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and our Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.