Hawaii Resources for Voters with Disabilities

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

In Hawaii, 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
Who can register to vote?

To register in Hawaii, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 16, you will be automatically registered and mailed a ballot upon turning 18
  • A resident of Hawaii with legal residence or the intent to make Hawaii your legal residence

If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote.

In Hawaii, you may not register or vote if:

  • Have had your right to vote specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored
  • Are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction. If you are on probation or parole for a felony conviction, you are eligible to vote. 

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 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 Hawaii?
  • By mail
    • All registered voters automatically receive their ballot in the mail, at the address provided with the voter’s Voter Registration, approximately 18 days prior to the election
    • You may return your voted ballot by mail or in person at a designated place (ballot box)  within your county.
       
  • In person at a voter service center, starting ten days prior to Election Day
    • Services include accessible in person voting and same day registration
       
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
     
  • Provisional ballot at a polling place that is counted after officials confirm your eligibility
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Hawaii?

Hawaii is a vote-by-mail state. A ballot will automatically be mailed to the address you listed on your Voter Registration.

  • You will receive a ballot approximately 18 days prior to the election
     
  • You may return your voted ballot by mail, or in person at a ballot drop off box within your county.
How is the Hawaii mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • You may request an Alternate Format Ballot (AFB) from your County Elections Official. The AFB will be electronically sent to you to download and mark your ballot privately and independently using your own accessibility technology, such as a screen reader.
     
  • You may return the voted ballot electronically to your County Elections Official, or by using the return ballot envelope that was included in the mail packet that all registered voters receive.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Hawaii?

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 local election 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

You may use an accessible ballot marking device, Verity Touch Writer, to vote and then print and cast your ballot. This printed ballot is the same as the one used by all voters, whether at the voter service center or by mail.

What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Hawaii?
  • You may request assistance from a poll worker or receive assistance from a person of your choice with the following exceptions:  
    • your employer, an agent of your employer
    • an officer or agent of your union
       
  • A poll worker can not force you into accepting assistance.

Hawaii provides the following guidelines for assisting voters in care facilities:

  • Reach out to family members to get them involved in the process of registration and voting.
  • Ensure that the resident meets all the qualifications to register to vote.
  • When providing assistance in voting, staff must remain nonpartisan and there should be at least two people of differing political affiliation present.
  • No one may ask a voter to see or look at the contests of their ballot or choice of political affiliation.
  • No one may mark a person’s ballot or direct a person in voting without authorization.
  • An attempt to vote in the name of another without specific authorization is illegal.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Hawaii prior to Election Day?

Hawaii provides a video on the Verity Touch Writer.

For more information or assistance, you can also contact your local election official.

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

Contact the Hawaii Disability Rights Center for help at 808-949-2922 Voice/TTY.

If your rights have been violated, you file a complaint in writing. It must be notarized, signed, and sworn by the complaint filer.

Complaints should be mailed to:
                 Office of Elections
                 802 Lehua Avenue
                 Pearl City, Hawaii 96782

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.