The Disability Guide to Voting

voteVoting is one of our most important rights and civic duties as citizens living in a democracy. For the disability community, it’s important to continually challenge the barriers to voting and not be forgotten as a critical voting bloc. When you participate in the election process, you help pave the path toward progress for people with disabilities. In Georgia, more than one million people have disabilities and approximately 652,000 are of voting age.

The following is a guide on voting for people with disabilities from the office of the Georgia Secretary of State, with the deadlines to pay attention to this election season.

How do I know if I am eligible to vote?
How do I know if I am registered to vote?
What if I get to my polling location and need assistance?
What do I need to vote?
What do I do if I do not have qualified identification?
Are there other options besides voting on Election Day?
Important Links from the Office of the Secretary of State

How do I know if I am eligible to vote?

In order to participate in the voting process in Georgia, you must be a citizen of the United States; a legal resident of Georgia and of the county in which you plan to vote; and 18 years of age by Election Day. If you are unsure of your registration status, check on your status through the Secretary of State’s website at http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us/ or contact your county voter registration office at http://sos.georgia.gov/cgi-bin/countyregistrarsindex.asp. You may also contact the Secretary of State’s office at 404.656.2871 or (V/TTY) 404.656.1787 for information.

How do I know if I am registered to vote?

Visit My Voter Page at http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us/ and you can check your voter registration status, find designated poll locations and directions, early voting locations, access mail-in applications and ballots, get information on elected officials, find registration information on file with the county office and get a sample ballot for the upcoming election.

What if I get to my polling location and need assistance?

If a voter with a disability is unable to sign his or her name; to see or mark the answers on the ballot; use the voting equipment; or cannot enter the voting booth without support, they may bring someone to help them.

A voter with a disability can receive support from any individual EXCEPT his or her employer, representative of his or her employer or a representative of his or her union, nor a poll worker or poll watcher, who is a resident of the precinct where the voter needing support is trying to vote.

Voters with disabilities can receive assistance from any other individuals including a mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, friend or child, and each individual assisting the voter with a disability must record his or her name on the elector’s voter certificate.

Additionally, poll officers and workers are provided training regarding the use of voting equipment, procedures and all aspects of state and federal laws applicable to conducting elections. For voters with disabilities who do not require support to vote from another individual, but require accommodation in the form of assistive technology, there are accessible touch screen voting equipment options provided at the polls that allow for assistance, but give more privacy and independence for voters to select their choices. These options include:

• An audio ballot for those with visual impairment or who are blind, using headphones and a number keypad similar to an automated phone service.
• A magnifying feature is available on every touch screen voting unit in Georgia that allows you to enlarge the print on the ballot.
• Touch screen voting units that allow a voter to vote while sitting in a chair or wheelchair.

What do I need to vote?

Be sure to show up to your polling location prepared to vote. You must bring photo identification. The acceptable forms of photo identification include:
• Georgia driver’s license, even if expired
• Any valid state or federal issued photo ID, including a free voter ID card issued by your County Registrar’s Office or by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)
• Valid US passport
• Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency or entity of the US government, Georgia or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this State
• Valid US military photo ID
• Valid tribal photo ID

What do I do if I do not have qualified identification?

For many in the disability community, not having qualified identification or a driver’s license is often a barrier to the voting process. You can get either a FREE Georgia Identification Card for voting purposes only from the Department of Driver Services or a FREE Georgia Voter Identification Card at your County Registrar’s Office.

In order to get a Georgia Voter Identification Card, you will need the following:
• A photo identity document or a non-photo identity document showing your full legal name and date of birth
• Documentation showing your date of birth
• Evidence you are registered to vote in Georgia; and
• Documentation showing your name and the address of your principal residence

For more information visit, http://sos.georgia.gov/cgi-bin/countyregistrarsindex.asp to find your County’s Registrar’s Office or visit the Georgia Department of Driver Services website at https://dds.georgia.gov/voter-id

Are there other options besides voting on Election Day?

In Georgia, there are a couple of ways to submit your vote without ever having to battle the crowds on Election Day. Any voter can request a mail-in ballot without having to provide a reason. To request a mail-in ballot, visit http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/elections/voter_information/absentee.htm and print out the application form.

Mail, fax or take the completed form in person to your local County Board of Registrar’s Office. It is important to request your mail-in ballot and return it as soon as possible to ensure it is received by the deadline, which is the close of the polls on the actual Election Day.

If you have a disability and need support to read and/or write your forms, you may get help when filling out your mail-in ballot application and the absentee/advance ballot form you will receive. Any person who assists an individual in his or her vote, must sign an oath that is printed either on the mail-in ballot envelope or on the application for mail-in-ballot, whichever is applicable.
Georgia also offers it citizens the option to vote in person at the polls before the big rush on Election Day.

Early/advance voting is easy and convenient, since it allows you to vote on a day and time that works for you.

Important Links from the Office of the Secretary of State: