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Experience of Voters with Disabilities in the 2012 Election Cycle

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Photo of a hand dropping a ballot into a ballot box, with the American flag in the background

October 24, 2013





Note: Please visit for voter registration and information for people with disabilities.

This report examines the impact of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 by documenting the experiences of voters with disabilities during the 2012 general election cycle.  NCD documented these accounts using an open-ended questionnaire, through which NCD gathered the experiences of nearly 900 voters with disabilities across the nation during the 2012 election.

In the Fiscal Year 2012 Senate Labor–Health and Human Services Appropriations bill (S. 1599), the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) was encouraged to consult with NCD “to monitor the implementation of the Help America Vote Act for voters with disabilities during the 2012 general election cycle.”  Although the bill passed the Senate, it was not included in the final appropriation bill. However, HHS wanted to meet the spirit of the Senate-passed bill. Accordingly, ACF responded to the Senate language by writing in its budget justification: "The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) will work with the National Council on Disability (NCD) and other federal partners to assess the accessibility of the election process for people with disabilities during the 2012 general election." To achieve this goal, AIDD partnered with NCD to assess the accessibility of the election process for people with disabilities during the 2012 general election.

This report provides a snapshot of architectural, attitudinal, technological, legislative, and voting practice barriers that confronted voters with disabilities in the 2012 general election cycle, and provides an overview of the use of federal funds, activities, and outcomes under HAVA for people with disabilities over the past decade. Incorporating data from the 2012 NCD Voter Experience Questionnaire and stories and anecdotes from the voters themselves around the country, the report documents experiences and offers concrete policy and procedural recommendations to improve voter participation and accessibility for citizens with disabilities now and in future elections.

The report provides a baseline of the current state of voting for citizens with disabilities and can serve as a blueprint for improvements, barrier removal, and procedural changes that can be measured between now and the 2016 primary and general elections.