Ohio Resources for Voters with Disabilities

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

According to the Secretary of State of Ohio, you have the specific right in Ohio to…

  • Voting locations that are free of any barriers to entrances or exits.
  • Voting locations that have ramps, wide doors, and accessible parking.

There are several Federal Laws that protect the rights of voters with a range of disabilities. Your rights enshrined in these laws include:

  • Voter Registration is accessible to you.
  • Polling places are accessible to you.
  • Policies and procedures may not discriminate against you based on your disability.
  • Accessible voting systems, features, and effective communication are available to you and must be operational.
  • Your service animal must be allowed to accompany you inside the polling place.
  • You are allowed assistance from a person of your choice.

Election Staff must be trained to understand your rights above. They should know:

  • the specific auxiliary aids and services that are available;
  • that service animals must be allowed to accompany voters inside the polling place;
  • that accessibility features at the polling place need to be operational;
  • that people with disabilities are allowed assistance from a person of their choice;
  • that other modifications may be needed to accommodate voters with disabilities
Who can register to vote?

U.S. citizens can vote if:

  • You are at least 18 years old on Election Day, 
  • Have been a resident of the city or county for at least 30 days
  • Do not claim the right to vote elsewhere 
  • Have not had your right to vote specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored.  
  • In Ohio, you may vote if you are not currently incarcerated, have completed your sentence, or while on probation or parole for a felony conviction
  • 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.
What are the different ways to vote in Ohio?
  • You can vote absentee by mail or in-person at your county’s designated early voting location.
     
  • You can vote in-person (including by a provisional ballot) on Election Day.
     
  • You can vote outside your polling place (curbside voting) if your polling place is not accessible.
How is the Ohio mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • If you have a disability that is recognized under the ADA then you can request to use an online accessible ballot. The online accessible ballot allows voters to from their home vote using any accessible technology they have with their device that is connected to the internet.
     
  • You can request an accessible online ballot by filling out an online form or submitting a written request to your board of elections. You need to request to use this type of ballot by noon on the Saturday before the election.
    • An election official may contact you for more information once you have submitted your application.
       
  • After your request is approved, you will get an email with all the voting materials, including the online ballot.
     
  • To return your ballot, you will need to mail it in the security envelope, which will be emailed and mailed to you the day your request is accepted. You can also return it in-person, or your family member can return it in-person to your board of elections.
    • There will be two holes marking the place where voters sign their envelope so that people with print disabilities know where to sign.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Ohio?
  • Every polling place in Ohio should have an accessible voting machine for you to use. The voting machine should have features such as an audio ballot, a Braille option, an option for large print/zooming, and the screens should have height and tilt adjustments. When you check in to your polling place, just ask to use the ADA complaint voting machine.
     
  • Polling places should have an accessible entrance, exit, and parking spaces.
     
  • You can bring someone along to help you vote. They can not be your employer, labor union official, or a candidate who is on the ballot. You can also request assistance from two bipartisan poll workers. No helper can influence your vote.
     
  • You can use curbside voting if your polling place is not accessible. Curbside voting means they will bring your ballot to your car, and you can vote from there.
What are the rules of assistance for voters with a disability in Ohio?
  • Your assistant to help you vote can not be your employer, work for your labor union, or be a candidate on the ballot.
     
  • You can have a family member return your accessible absentee ballot for you.
     
  • Anyone can help you if you can not sign your voter registration form. They just need to write and sign their name and attest that you would like to register to vote.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Ohio prior to Election Day?

You should be able to preview a ballot and practice voting. If you have any questions, you can contact your board of elections.

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Ohio?
  • To file a formal complaint about voting accessibility, fill out this form and mail it or hand-deliver it to the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State, Elections Division, 180 E. Broad Street, 15th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215
    • You must get the form notarized, and the complaint must be signed and sworn.
    • You must include your name, address, phone number and any information relevant to your complaint. 
    • You can also name any witnesses or provide any sort of evidence you have for your complaint.
    • If you want to request a hearing, you must do it in writing within 10 days of sending your original complaint.
      • You can request accommodations for the hearing at least 5 days before the hearing.
         
  • You can contact the Disability Rights Ohio Voter Hotline at 800-282-9181 on Election Day while polls are open. You can also send them a voice message on any day at any time using this same phone number.
     
  • 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.