Alaska Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in Alaska?

In Alaska, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must be trained on and respect these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration
  • Accessible polling places 
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems, features
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed
  • Assistance from a person of your choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent or someone who has authority over you at work)

In Alaska, you also have the right to:

  • Have someone pick up and deliver a ballot to you if you are unable to vote because of age, illness or a disability. This person is called a personal representative.  More information is available under "What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Alaska?"
Who can register to vote in Alaska?

To register to vote in Alaska, you must be

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 18 years old within 90 days of completing the voter registration application
  • A resident of Alaska
  • If you are a student, homeless, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you can still vote.

In Alaska, you may not register or vote if:

  • you have been convicted of a felony involving "moral turpitude", unless having been so convicted, you have been unconditionally discharged from incarceration, probation or parole
  • Claim the right to vote elsewhere (registered to vote in another state)
  • Your right to vote was specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored

Register to vote now if you are eligible!

What are my rights when registering to vote?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities of these offices include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official

All aspects of voter registration must be accessible 

What are the different ways to vote in Alaska?
  • Early Voting (beginning 15 days before Election Day at an absentee polling location)
  • In person on Election Day
  • Absentee voting without excuse
  • Absentee voting by personal representative 
    • A personal representative can pick up a ballot for you beginning 15 days before Election Day
       
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
  • A provisional ballot at a polling place that is counted after officials confirm your eligibility
     
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Alaska?

Request an absentee ballot now, or contact your Local Elections Office for more assistance or information.

How is the Alaska mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?

If you require an alternative ballot, please contact your Regional Elections Office.

You may request and return an accessible ballot electronically as well. This Special Needs Voting video with American Sign Language (ASL) captions explains some of your options.

What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Alaska?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs.

  • The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting in person on Election Day.
     
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections.  The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive. 

If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your Regional Elections Official.

If you are unable to stand in line, you can:

  • Request to be moved to the front of the line or refuse to be moved to the front of the line
  • Request that a chair be provided or refuse to accept a chair
  • Request to have your place in line held and notified when it is your turn

 
Magnifying glasses are available at polling places to assist with print disabilities. 

A 21-inch touchscreen is available to assist you in casting your ballot. By using this equipment:

  • Ballots may be viewed using a variety of text, contrast, and layout options.
  • Ballots may be viewed in English, Spanish or specific Alaska Native languages.
  • You are alerted of any errors on their ballot.
  • You are able to view the selections before printing the ballot.
  • You can utilize a range of accessibility devices.

You can contact your Regional Elections Official for additional information about accessible voting.

What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Alaska?

You may have assistance during any stage of the electoral process.

  • You may have a person of your choice provide assistance to you as long as that person is not a candidate, your employer, agent of your employer, or agent of your union.
  • You may request assistance from an election worker at any voting location.
  • The person you choose can help you in completing forms, reading voting materials and go into the voting booth with you to assist you in casting your ballot.
  • A poll worker cannot coerce you into accepting assistance.

You may have an assistant, called a “personal representative,” pick up and deliver a ballot to you and assist you in any step of the voting process.

  • This assistant can be anyone except a candidate for office in the election, your employer, an agent of your employer, or an officer or agent of your union.
  • Video explaining using an Assistant to Vote 
  • Your personal representative can pick up and bring you your ballot from any absentee voting location in your area, starting fifteen days before Election Day, or at your polling location on Election Day.

The steps of the voting process using a personal representative are:

  • Your ballot packet includes an envelope, a ballot, and a secrecy sleeve to securely deliver your vote
  • When picking up your ballot packet, your personal representative will complete step one of the envelope by writing your name, their information and signature
  • You will complete your ballot, place the ballot in the sleeve and seal it in the envelope
  • You will complete step two on the envelope with your information, and your personal representative will be your witness to your signature
  • Your personal representative will return your completed ballot to a voting location on or before 8:00pm Alaska Standard Time on Election Day
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Alaska prior to Election Day?

During elections with a federal race on the ballot, a touch screen voting unit will be in each polling place and at the Regional Election Offices absentee voting locations.  Touch screen voting is intended for the blind, disabled and voters with reading difficulties.

Depending on the region, touch screen machines also offer an audio ballot in the following languages:

  • Yup'ik
  • Inupiaq/Iñupiaq
  • Koyukon
  • Gwich'in
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog

Alaska offers a PDF guide and video demo for the touch screen units. 

For more information or assistance, you can contact your Regional Elections Official.
 

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Alaska?

If you encounter problems while exercising your right to vote, you may file a written, notarized complaint with the Division of Elections. This is the process for filing a complaint.

You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:

  • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
  • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
  • By mailing your form to: 

                 U.S. Department of Justice
                 Office of the Inspector General Investigations Division
                 ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
                 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                 Washington, DC 20530

For assistance with advocacy, protection of your voting rights, and other services, you may contact the office of Disability Law Center of Alaska.

For additional assistance, The National Network of ADA Centers can provide local contact information for other organizations you may wish to contact, including your Regional ADA Center or ADA Knowledge Translation Center, or Federal Agencies and Resources.

Additional Resources