League of Women Voters

Vermont Provisions for Voters with Disabilites

Polling places must allow all voters to conveniently and privately cast their votes. This means that polling places should be accessible to all voters, including people with physical and mental disabilities, as well as the elderly. All polling places in Vermont should be physically accessible. If you find a polling place that is not, you should notify the secretary of state's office, who will work with the town to ensure that steps are taken to make it accessible. If you have a unique accessibility need, you should give the town reasonable advance notice so that the town can take steps to accommodate your needs.

If you are sick or disabled, you can ask that election officials bring a ballot to your car, as long as the car is next to the polling place. Two election officials will bring the ballot to the car and assist you if you request it, and then they will return to the polling place and place the completed ballot in the ballot box or optical scan machine. All voters have the right to have someone assist them in voting and voters may bring in devices, such as a magnifying glass to help them vote.

If you require assistance and have brought someone with you to help, simply tell the election officials that you have someone to help you with the voting process. The person providing assistance can be anyone of your choosing, as long as the person helping is not your employer or union representative. You should not have to reveal that you have a disability or why you may need assistance. The person helping can do such things as read the ballot to you, help fill out the paper ballots or use the voting machine.

If you need assistance and did not bring someone to the polls to help, two election officials will provide whatever assistance is needed. When you check in to vote, simply tell the election workers that you need assistance. With no questions asked, you must be provided that assistance.

If you spoil a ballot (mark the ballot improperly), or decide to change how you voted before putting the ballot in the ballot box or optical scan machine, you may ask for a new ballot. Every person is allowed to ask for a new ballot, up to three times, but can only cast one vote. If you vote for more than the number of candidates allowed in a particular race, the optical scan machine will reject the ballot to give you the chance to correct the ballot so your votes will count. In towns that count by hand, there will be reminders by the ballot box asking you to check your ballot to correct any overvotes. You can ask for help in putting your ballots into the ballot box or optical scan machine.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required states to implement voting systems that are accessible for individuals with disabilities and permit voters who are blind or visually-impaired to cast their votes privately and independently. The vote-by-phone system purchased by the State of Vermont is designed to meet this mandate. When you go to your polling place and check in at the entrance checklist, indicate that you wish to use the vote-by-phone system. A poll worker uses a designated telephone to call the system, enters the poll worker and ballot access IDs to bring up the appropriate ballot, then gives the phone to you and leaves the voting booth. The system reads the ballot to you and, after you make ballot selections using the telephone key pad, the system prints out a paper ballot at the office of the secretary of state. The paper ballot is automatically scanned and can be played back to you for verification upon your request. You may decide to cast it or discard it and revote.

Every polling place has a telephone voting system available for voters who wish to use it in the primary or general election. The Vote-by-Phone (at the polls) system was created to enable voters with disabilities to vote privately and independently. When you vote-by-phone you listen to the choices using the handset or a headset, and then you mark your ballot bypressing a telephone key pad. The system reads back the paper ballot for you before it is cast so you can be sure that it marked your choices correctly. Find out more information about the vote-by-phone system here.

For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People with Disabilities resource.


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Election Day Problems?

Call one of these hotlines:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
1-844-418-1682 (Arabic)


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