November 7, 2023, Election Day in the USA, is approaching. Election laws and voting regulations vary by state, and some have recently changed in significant ways, so it’s important to check current policy for early and absentee voting where you live. The best way to confirm your registration and mail-in deadlines is to call your local Board of Elections or go to Can I Vote and select your state.
Voting with vision loss can certainly present challenges, but that should never preclude you from exercising your right. Democracy is a serious business and we’ve seen, in many elections now, how every vote matters. All eligible voters should participate in the process, no excuses.
The way elections are managed from state to state may vary, but the basic rules of voting are the same across America. You must be registered to vote in every state, except North Dakota. Voters with visual impairments should know there are several ways to get the job done with relative ease.
Vote Absentee Ballot
Absentee ballots are available in all 50 states and can be requested in advance, online, or by phone at your local Board of Elections. For many people with vision loss, this is the preferred method because it can be accomplished in the privacy of your own home. The post office cannot guarantee the delivery of mailed ballots less than 2 weeks before the election, which means this process should be completed by the second week of October. Your ballot can be delivered by hand to the Board of Elections office or polling place during the early voting period or on Election Day.
Vote in Person with Assistance
On Election Day or once the early voting phase begins, plan to join a friend or family member and get a little help casting your ballot. This is an option many visually impaired voters find easiest to accomplish. Your polling place will also offer in-person voting assistance. To ensure transparency, the assistance provided is bipartisan in nature. Your ballot will be marked as you wish, with the oversight of a designated Democrat on your left, and a designated Republican on your right. It’s actually a meaningful gesture for the country, a representation of how our political parties can work together for the common good.
Accessible Voting Machines
To vote in person, independently, ask for the accessible voting machine which enables your use of enlarged text, or an audible guide, to assist in marking your ballot. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires one accessible ballot-marking device, and that a person trained in its use, be available in every polling location.
Giving up your vote is never a good option.
Go to vote.org online or contact a live representative on the Be My Eyes app for help registering, checking your registration status, requesting a mail-in ballot, or learning more about your state’s voting options and requirements.
Post originally published Sep 24, 2020, and most recently updated Oct 11, 2023