In D.C., 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)
To register to vote in D.C., you must be:
- A citizen of the United States of America
- At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day
- A resident for at least 30 days prior to the election
If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical disability, you may still register and vote. You never lose the right to vote in D.C. if you have a felony or misdemeanor conviction, even while incarcerated.
In D.C., you may not register or vote if you:
- Your right to vote was specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored
- You claim the right to vote elsewhere
Register to vote now if you are eligible!
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. These aspects include but are not limited to:
- Ensuring effective communication
- Providing auxiliary aids and services to assist voters
- Providing changes to or accessible versions of forms and processes to accommodate a person's disabilities
- Early Voting
- In person on Election Day
- Curbside voting at Vote Centers may be available
- By mail, using a regular ballot or an Accessible Remote Ballot (ARB)
- While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
- Paper ballots are mailed to all registered voters ahead of elections.
- An Accessible Remote Ballot (A.R.B.) may also be requested if you need an electronic ballot compatible with assistive devices such as screen readers, tactile switches, closed captioning, and audio-enabled systems.
- To request an A.R.B., fill the Accessible Remote Ballot Application and email it to email@example.com.
Request an absentee ballot now, or contact your DC Board of Elections ADA Coordinator to find out how to get an accessible ballot.
D.C. provides eligible voters with an Accessible Remote Ballot (ARB), this is an electronic ballot marking system that is compatible with many assistive devices, including all major screen readers, tactile switches, closed captioning, and audio-enabled systems.
To receive an Accessible Remote Ballot, fill out the Accessible Remote Ballot Application and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once your application is processed, you will receive an email, to the email address you provided, that contains login information for the ARB portal.
You have several options to return your completed ballot:
- You may print your voted ballot and return it to the Board by mail
- You may print your voted ballot and return it to a Mail Ballot Drop Box or Vote Center location
- You may return your ballot electronically
For more assistance or information, please contact your DC Board of Elections ADA Coordinator.
Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with disabilities.
- 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) ensures the right of people with disabilities to vote in person, both privately and independently. To ensure the right of a private and independent vote, 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.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that the District and their election officials ensure that people with disabilities have the full and equal opportunity to vote in all elections and in all parts of voting. This full and equal opportunity includes voter registration; selecting a location for polling places; and voting, whether in person on Election Day or during an early voting period or through a vote-by-mail process. This right applies to getting into vote centers and to being provided with reasonable accommodations to meet needs in order to vote.
If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your DC Board of Elections
If you are unable to stand in line, you have the right to request accommodations from a poll worker or other DC Board of Elections staff. Your rights include, but are not limited to:
- To be moved to the front of the line, or refuse to be moved to the front of the line
- That a chair be provided, ore request to stand
- To have your place in line held and notified when it is your turn
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 poll watcher or election observer, 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 require you to accept assistance
D.C. uses ExpressVote machines for in-person voting. These voting machines allow voters to:
- Use either a touchscreen or movable keypad.
- Adjust the display contrast and text size.
- Use a key pad printed with both text and Braille labels.
- Use headphones to hear instructions and options for each contest.
- Make selections using the touchscreen, keypad, two-position switch, or sip/puff device.
- Adjust the volume and tempo of the audio when using headphones.
- See and/or hear all instructions and options in Spanish.
For more information or assistance in learning to use this machine prior to elections, please contact the DC Board of Elections. Poll workers are trained to provide assistance with this machine during elections.
DC uses the Omniballot platform provided by Democracy Live! for its Accessible Remote Ballot (ARB) system. Your DC Board of Elections can provide information about this system as well.
Your first step can be letting a poll worker or site coordinator know there is a problem if you are voting a person. If the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact the ADA Coordinator at:
- email@example.com or
- call (202) 727-5411 / 711 (TTY) for assistance.
If you have questions or complaints about voting access, please contact Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services. This organization is the Protection and Advocacy program for DC. Contact Disability Rights DC at:
- 202-547-2657 (TTY)
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 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.
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands
- West Virginia