Minnesota Resources for Voters with Disabilities

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

In Minnesota, 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
  • 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 Minnesota, you also have the right to:  

  • Take time off work to vote without losing your pay, personal leave, or vacation time
  • Vote if you are in line to vote anytime before 8 p.m
  • Register to vote on Election Day if you can show the required proof of residence
  • Verbally confirm who you are and have another person sign for you if you cannot sign your name
  • Bring your children with you to vote
  • Vote after you finish all parts of your sentence, including any probation, parole, or supervised release
  • Vote if you are under a guardianship, unless a judge has revoked your right to vote
  • Vote without anyone in the polling place trying to influence your vote
  • Get a replacement ballot if you make a mistake on your ballot before you cast it
  • File a written complaint at your polling place
  • Take a sample ballot into the voting booth
Who can register to vote in Minnesota?

To register to vote in Minnesota, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of Minnesota for 20 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 Minnesota, you may not register or vote if:

  • A judge has restricted your right to vote when you:
    • Are under guardianship
    • Are under conservatorship
    • Have given someone power of attorney
    • Have a brain injury
    • Have a developmental disability
    • Have a cognitive impairment
    • Experience memory loss 
       
  • You are incarcerated, on parole, or on probation for a felony conviction.
  • You claim the right to vote elsewhere

Register to vote now if you are eligible!

What are my rights when registering to vote in Minnesota?

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 Minnesota?
  • In person on Election Day
  • Early Voting (absentee) starting 46 days before Election Day
    • In person
    • By mail
       
  • Agent Delivery
    • A person of your choice may deliver your forms and ballot for you under special circumstances
  • 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 Minnesota?
  • You can request an absentee ballot by filling out an absentee ballot application. U.S. Vote Foundation has an online tool to help with this process. 
  • The application is also available in Large Print.
  • If you need an alternative application, such as braille, please call  1-877-600-8683.
  • You need a witness when you vote with your absentee ballot. 
    • The witness can be either a registered Minnesota voter or a notary. 
    • Your witness must sign the signature envelope and list their address.
    • Notaries should write their name and title, sign the signature envelope, and affix their notary stamp.
       
  • Agent Delivery: Starting 7 days before an election, and ending at 2p.m. on election day, you may have a person of your choice pick up and return your ballot if you are unable to go to the polling place due to a disability or hospitalization.
    • You may also have an agent pick up and return your ballot if you live in one of the following locations:
      • nursing home
      • assisted living facility
      • residential treatment center
      • group home
      • battered women's shelter
    • Your agent must be at least 18 years old, already have a relationship with you, and cannot be a candidate. They may not be an agent of more than three voters in an election.
    • To receive your ballot, your agent must take your completed absentee ballot request form, and a Request for Agent Delivery of Absentee Ballot form to your local election office.

Request an absentee ballot now or contact your county election office for more information or assistance.

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

Info for print disabilities description and form

After filling out your absentee ballot request form, you must contact your county election office and tell them you wish to receive an alternative ballot, such as braille or large print.

The absentee ballot request form is also available in Large Print.

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please contact your county election office.

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

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 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

Most polling locations in Minnesota have an accessible ballot marking machine.  There are four types of machines available, depending on your location: OmniBallot, ImageCast Evolution, Verity TouchWriter, and AutoMARK.

Minnesota’s minimum requirements for accessibility include:

  • At least one set of doors must have a minimum width of 32 inches if the doors must be used to enter or leave the polling place.
  • Any curb adjacent to the main entrance to a polling place must have curb cuts or temporary ramps. Where the main entrance is not the accessible entrance, any curb adjacent to the accessible entrance must also have curb cuts or temporary ramps.
  • Where the main entrance is not the accessible entrance, a sign shall be posted at the main entrance giving directions to the accessible entrance.
  • At least one set of stairs must have a temporary handrail and ramp if stairs must be used to enter or leave the polling place.
  • No barrier in the polling place may impede the path of persons with disabilities to the voting booth.
  • At least one parking space for persons with disabilities, which may be temporarily so designated by the municipality for the day of the election, must be available near the accessible entrance.
  • The doorway, handrails, ramps, and handicapped parking must conform to the standards specified in the state building code for accessibility by persons with disabilities.

If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your local election official.

What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Minnesota?
  • You may request assistance from a poll worker or receive assistance from a person of your choice with the following exceptions:  
    • your employer or an agent of your employer
    • an officer or agent of your union
       
  • Your assistant can help you in all parts of the voting process, including in the voting booth.
  • You can show your ballot privately to an election judge to check that it is correctly marked.
  • Helpers are not allowed to influence your vote or share how you vote with others.
  • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment prior to Election Day?

Minnesota uses four types of accessible ballot marking machines. They are listed below, and linked to short videos explaining each:

Each machine differs slightly, but all of them can do the following things:

  • Allow selections by touching the screen (if applicable) or pressing braille keys on the keypad.
  • Read the ballot to you through headphones, while you mark the ballot with the braille keypad.
  • Allow you to turn the screen off for privacy.
  • Warn you about making ballot marking errors, such as voting for more than one party's candidates in a partisan primary election.
  • Print your choices on the ballot.

You can find more information on which ballot marking machines will be at which specific polling places on Minnesota’s Ballot Marking Machine Page.

Contact your local election official to preview a sample ballot and practice using accessible voting equipment.

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

To file a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) complaint with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State:

  • Complete the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Complaint Form.
  • Cite the part of Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Title III (Uniform and Nondiscriminatory Election Technology and Administration Requirements) you believe was violated. Choose from:
    • Section 301 (Voting Machine Standards)
    • Section 302 (Voting Information Requirements)
    • Section 303 (Statewide Voter Registration).
       
  • Have the form notarized (or signed by an election judge at the polling place on Election Day) and return it to the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State at:

    Minnesota Secretary of State
    Elections and Administration
    180 State Office Building
    100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    Saint Paul, MN 55155

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.