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Connecticut Secretary of the State

Voters with Disabilities Fact Sheet

 

 

Your Vote Matters! 

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. It is critical that all eligible voters have equal access and opportunity to participate in our electoral process. We understand, however, that voting can present a unique set of challenges to voters with disabilities.  Fortunately, important federal and state laws exist to protect your fundamental right to vote and prohibit discrimination on the basis of your disability. Those laws are designed to ensure that you have full and equal access to voting.  The Office of the Secretary of the State is committed to ensuring that the polls are accessible to all voters and that you are fully able to exercise your voting rights privately and independently. 

 

You have the right to an accessible polling place. 

Both federal and state law require that all voters be able to access and use their polling places.  While absentee balloting is offered to voters with disabilities, it does not take the place of in-person voting for those who prefer to vote at the polls on Election Day.   For more information about polling place accessibility, please see the Americans with Disabilities Act checklist for voting centers hereIf you have questions or concerns about the accessibility of your polling place, contact your Registrars of Voters.  You can find your polling place here

 

Accommodations can be made if you have difficulty standing in line at the polls. 

Voters who have difficulty standing in line have several options.  For example, they can approach the Moderator of the polling place and request that they be allowed to move to the front of the line due to the challenges imposed by standing.  Moderators should accommodate them.  A voter may also ask the Moderator to direct them to a chair they can use.  Election officials are encouraged to provide suitable seating to accommodate said requests.  The voter’s place in line should be held and the Moderator or a poll worker will let them know when it is time for them to vote.  To learn more information about the options available at your polling place, please contact your Registrars of Voters.

 

You have the right to use a ballot marking device at the polling place. 

An accessible ballot marking device is available at every polling place for voters with disabilities or for any voter who prefers this option. This ballot marking system allows you to make your choices audibly or by using a touchscreen display, rather than by pen and paper. This is a voter-verified paper ballot system that allows you to vote privately and independently.   The voting device features a touchscreen display that includes alternatives such as audio, tactile keys, and customizable displays to accommodate voters with a wide range of physical, sensory, cognitive, language and literacy abilities. The system marks the same preprinted ballots that are used at the polling place.  A privacy sleeve is available to safeguard your right to vote in privacy. In addition, poll workers must remain in a location that prevents them from seeing how you marked your ballot. You can then run the machine-marked ballots through the optical-scan tabulator in the same manner as all other voter-marked ballots.  Find more information here

 

You have the right to vote independently and privately. 

You have the right to independently mark and cast your ballot without interference, coercion or intimidation.  You also have the right to vote in privacy so that you can cast a secret ballot. 

You have the right to receive assistance if you need help casting your ballot.

You have the right to get help with voting from a person of your choosing.  There are, however, some exceptions.  The following people are not allowed to help you mark or cast your ballot: 

  • Your employer (or an agent of your employer);

  • An agent of your union; or

  • A candidate whose name appears on the ballot.  This does not apply if the candidate is a member of your immediate family.

You have the right to review a sample ballot and receive instructions concerning how to operate the voting equipment before voting. 

You have the right to review a sample ballot before voting.  You also have the right to receive instruction on how to use the voting equipment before voting.  You can receive this instruction on sample equipment, including the accessible ballot marking system. Find more information here.

You can request curbside voting if you become temporarily incapacitated when you arrive at the polling place.

If you arrive at the polling place but are unable to access it due to a temporary incapacity, you may request that a ballot be brought to you.  The Registrars of Voters (or their assistants) from both parties must then bring you a ballot and a privacy sleeve.  You must show the proper identification and may then mark the ballot. You must mark the ballot in front of the election officials but not in a way that will violate your right to vote in privacy.  You should then place the ballot in a privacy sleeve. The election officials will then deliver your ballot in the privacy sleeve to the tabulator for counting.  At no time should your right to vote in privacy be violated.

You have the right to vote by absentee ballot if you have a physical disability that prevents you from voting in person on Election Day. 

An absentee ballot enables voter to mail in their vote, or deliver their ballot early, instead of appearing at the polling site on Election Day. You may apply for an absentee ballot if you have a physical disability that prevents you from voting in person on Election Day.  Visit www.myvote.ct.gov for more information about absentee voting and links to the application.

You can participate in supervised absentee voting if you reside in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other qualified institution.

During supervised absentee voting sessions, the Registrars of Voters or their designees deliver the ballots to the facility and jointly supervise voters while they fill them out.  You have the right to complete your ballot in secret, but the Registrars observe the process and are available to provide assistance to you, if asked. In that case, both parties’ Registrars, or their designees, jointly render assistance. These sessions are optional or mandatory, depending on the number of patients at the facility who are registered voters. If at least 20 patients are registered voters in the town, the Registrars must conduct a session.  Advance notice of supervised absentee voting sessions will be given.  Connecticut law requires that the Registrars return as many times as necessary to accommodate anyone who wants to vote. If you are unavailable when the Registrar visits, simply request that the Registrar return and they will do so. For more information contact your local Registrars of Voters.

 

You can obtain permanent absentee voter status if you have a permanent disabilities.

If you are a voter with a permanent disability you can apply to your Town Clerk for permanent absentee ballot status.  This enables you to automatically receive an absentee ballot for each election, primary, and referendum in the municipality in which you are eligible to vote. To be eligible for the status, you must file an application together with a doctor's certificate stating that you have a permanent disability and cannot appear in person at your polling place. You do not need to have your disability recertified each year if you continue to reside in the same town.   However, if you move to a different town, you will need to reapply for permanent status and provide a doctor’s certificate to the Town Clerk of the new town.  It is also important to be aware that each year in January the Registrars will send you a notice to confirm that you still reside at the address on your application.  If you do not return the notice within 30 days or it is returned undeliverable, you will lose your permanent absentee voter status.  You will not, however, be removed from the voter registration list. For more information about permanent absentee ballot requirements, contact your local Registrars or Town Clerk.

 

You can obtain an emergency absentee ballot is you are suddenly injured, taken ill, or have been hospitalized within six (6) days of the election. 

Emergency absentee ballots can be used by any voter who is suddenly injured, taken ill, or is a patient staying in hospital within six (6) days of the election.  Emergency absentee ballot applications are issued by your local town clerk. You will need to fill out an emergency absentee ballot application and make sure to identify your designee. The law specifies who can act as your designee. Your designee will be the only one that will be able to deliver the absentee ballot to you. Once you have completed your ballot, your designee must return it to the Town Clerk’s office and it must be received there by the end of Election Day. For more information about emergency absentee ballot requirements, contact your local Town Clerk.

 

Only a Judge of Probate can decide that you are not competent to vote.

You have the right to vote unless a probate court has specifically ruled that you are incompetent to exercise that right.  Connecticut law does provide, however, that the supervising officials at a supervised absentee ballot voting session have the authority to reject a ballot when they unable to determine how the voter wants to vote (presumably, because the voter is unable to communicate that).

 

You have to right to file a complaint about accessibility or other voting rights violations. 

If you believe that your voting rights have been violated, you can file an official complaint with Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission at www.ct.gov/seec or the United States Department of Justice at www.justice.gov.  You can also contact our office and Disability Rights Connecticut at www.disrightsct.org which provides protection and advocacy to ensure that individuals with disabilities participate in the electoral process through voter education, voter registration drives, polling place accessibility surveys, Election Day monitoring, and other activities related to the voting rights of people with disabilities in Connecticut.

 

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact our office at (860) 509-6100.  For additional information, including the Connecticut’s Voter’s Bill of Rights, visit www.myvotect.gov

 

This material is designed to provide basic information to the voters of Connecticut and is not meant to be a comprehensive review of Connecticut election law.