Illinois Resources for Voters with Disabilities

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

In Illinois, 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 a candidate unless this person is your family member)
Who can register to vote?

To register to vote in Illinois, you must be

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 and will be 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of the city or county for at least 30 days

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 Illinois, you may not register or vote if:

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 Illinois?
  • In person on Election Day (including same day registration)
  • Early Voting
  • Vote by Mail
    • including Remote accessible Vote by Mail for voters with print disabilities
       
  • Absentee (without an excuse)
  • 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

Voting in a Nursing Home or Long-Term Care facility

  • In-person voting may also be arranged at the nursing home. If this happens, two election judges (one from each political party) will come to the nursing home to supervise voting, collect ballots, and return the ballots to be counted by the local election authority.

Voting when admitted to a Health Care Facility less than 14 days before an election

  • If you are admitted to a hospital, rehabilitation center, or nursing home less than 14 days before an election, you are entitled to personal delivery of a mail-in ballot.
     
    • In order to receive your ballot, you must complete and sign an application for qualified voter admitted to hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center, available from your local election official. Your doctor or other health care professional must also complete and sign a portion of the application.
       
    • After you complete the application, a relative or any person registered to vote in your precinct must then bring your application to your local election official.
      • The relative or person must sign an oath swearing that they are your relative or a voter in your precinct and that you have authorized them to pick up your ballot.
      • Then, the relative or person must bring the ballot to you in the health care facility, you privately mark your ballot, and the relative or person must return your ballot to the local election authority where it will be counted. 
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Illinois?

You can fill out an absentee ballot request.  U.S. Vote Foundation has an online tool to help you with this process.

Voters with print disabilities may request electronic delivery of their mail-in ballot from their local election official.

How is the Illinois mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • Voters with print disabilities may request electronic delivery of their mail-in ballot from their local election official.
     
  • To request electronic delivery of your mail-in ballot, you will be required to sign an application certifying that you have a print disability.
    • A print disability is defined as a temporary or permanent physical or mental impairment that prevents effective reading, writing, or use of printed materials.
    • Print disabilities include blindness, low vision, physical dexterity limitations, and learning or cognitive disabilities. 
       
  • After reading and marking the ballot using assistive technology, you must print out the ballot and return it to your local election official by mail or in person.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Illinois?

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

In Illinois, curbside voting is also available if entry into the polling place is inaccessible to you. 

  • You must request curbside voting from your local election official by the close of business on the day before the election.
    Two election judges (one from each political party) will bring a ballot and portable voting booth to you so that you can mark your ballot privately.
  • Local election authorities may also establish curbside voting programs that allow you to vote from your vehicle.

An accessible voting machine should be available at all polling locations. Illinois also offers a lookup tool for polling accessibility when elections are occurring. For more information, please contact your local election official.

What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Illinois?
  • You may receive assistance with voting if you sign an oath swearing that you need assistance because you are blind, have a physical disability, or cannot read, write, or speak the English language.
     
  • You may choose any person to assist you with voting, except you may not choose your employer, an agent or officer of your union, or a candidate on your ballot. The person assisting you must sign an oath swearing that they will not influence your choice of candidates, party, or votes on ballot measures.
     
  • If you are voting in person, you may also ask the election judges to assist you. Two judges (one from each political party) will assist you with marking your ballot.
    How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Illinois prior to Election Day?

    You have the right to access a sample ballot and can preview and practice using accessible voting equipment. For more information or assistance, please contact your local election office.

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

    In Illinois, you can file a complaint by contacting the Disability Rights Bureau at disability.rights@ilag.gov.

    You can 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.