The Center for An Accessible Society Disability Issues Information









More Than 20,000 Polling Places Inaccessible

According to a report by the Federal Election Commission, more than 20,000 polling places across the nation fail to meet the minimal requirements of accessibility -- depriving people with disabilities of their fundamental right to vote.

Lawsuit filed over DC voting access.

"Millions of Americans are being treated as second class citizens when they attempt to participate in one of the cornerstones of our democracy," said Cyndi Jones, director of The Center for an Accessible Society.

Inaccessibility can take the form of a polling place without a ramp or elevator. Or inaccessibility can mean that there is no accessible parking, no Braille ballot, inaccessible voting booths, lack of a private vote, or when those who require assistance with voting are judged to be not capable of voting by the very polling officials that should be helping.

More than 30 million Americans with disabilities are of voting age. Yet a National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation study by University of Arkansas researcher Kay Schriner, Ph.D., shows that people with disabilities are 20 percentage points less likely than non-disabled people to vote and 10 percent less likely to register to vote.

"If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as the non-disabled, between 5 and 10 million more votes would be cast in the upcoming presidential election. That is a substantial number," says Dr. Schriner.

Inaccessibility and discrimination contribute significantly to the lack of voting by people with disabilities.

"Our primary goal this year is to increase the turnout of disabled voters. If we do not seek to actively participate in this fundament right of citizenship, we will be forfeiting our political influence. And it will be through that influence that we will see improvements -- you cannot ignore 30 million voters," says Jones.






Kay Schriner and Douglas Kruse have conducted a number of studies about voting access and persons with disabilities.

Kay Schriner, Ph.D., Department of Political Science
University of Arkansas
501-575-6417 (direct)
501-575-3356 (reception)

Douglas Kruse, School of Management and Labor Relations
Rutgers University

The Trace R&D Center was formed in 1971 to address the communication needs of people who are nonspeaking and have severe disabilities. Its director is Gregg Vanderheiden.
Gregg Vanderheiden
Trace Research and Development Center
(608) 263-2309



The following sites contain information that may be of interest. Please bear in mind that the information at these sites is not controlled by the Center for An Accessible society. Links to these sites do not imply that the Center supports either the organizations or the views presented.
The Project on Disability Politics at the University of Arkansas looks at political participation of people with disabilities, voting rights laws affecting people with disabilities and disability in American campaigns and elections.

"Voters with disabilities face discrimination nationwide," A report in the November/December 2000 issue of Ragged Edge magazine

The Trace Research & Development Center's efforts to make electronic voting machines easier to use for the average citizen, our aging population and people with disabilities can be found at

The National Organization on Disability's "Getting Out The Disability Vote" campaign has background and commentary






Expert sources

Election reform legislation and access

Voting in America -- commentary

Accessible voting machines

Polling sites remain inaccessible


About The Center for An Accessible Society