Washington Resources for Voters with Disabilities

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

In Washington, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must 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 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)
  • Election Staff trained to understand the rights above

In Washington, you also have the right to:  

  • vote even if you are under guardianship
  • have help voting if you reside in an assisted living facility
Who can register to vote?

To register in Washington, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States of America,
  • At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day (16 and 17 year olds can sign up as Future Voters and become automatically registered at 18),
  • 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 Washington, you may not register or vote if:

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 Washington?

Washington conducts all-mail elections, but you do have options to vote:

  • In person on Election Day or on Early Voting dates,
  • By mail-in ballot,
  • By returning your ballot to a drop box,
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request,
  • By provisional ballot at a polling place.
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Washington?

Every registered voter in Washington will receive a mail-in ballot at the address provided on the voter’s registration form.

How is Washington’s mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?

You can receive a large print ballot (200 or 300 percent) by contacting your local election official.

You can receive assistance with filling out and signing your absentee ballot.

  • If you cannot sign due to disability, you can simply mark an X, and two witnesses can sign their names to certify your ballot. These witnesses can be anyone.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Washington?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs

  • Every polling place will have an accessible voting machine,
  • Including early voting sites starting 18 days before Election Day,
  • The accessible voting machine will be wheelchair-accessible and create privacy for you so that you are able to vote privately,
  • You will be able to use the accessible voting machine using a wheel, touch screen, or a tool. Most likely, they will also be able to be fitted with sip-and-puff tools.
    • You can request assistance from anyone you choose or two election officers. They can record your vote with your direction,
    • If there is a doubt about your voting eligibility, you can use a provisional ballot. You should not be turned away,
    • There will be marked accessible parking spaces, an accessible drop-off area, an accessible route into and out of the polling place, and the polling place voting area will be accessible to you.
      • Here is a checklist that Washington polling places follow to ensure accessibility for voters with a disability.
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Washington?

When voting in person:

  • You may request assistance from two poll workers 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 candidate on the ballot.
       
  • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.

When voting by mail-ballot:

  • You can also receive help from anyone you choose with your mail-in ballot,
  • You will only need two witnesses if you are unable to sign the ballot yourself.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Washington prior to Election Day?
Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Washington?

If you have any concerns about the accessibility of your polling place, you can reach out to your local election official or the Office of the Secretary of State's Elections Division at (800) 448- 4881.

You can also contact Disability Rights Washington at 315 5th Ave Suite 850, Seattle, WA 98104, 800-562-2702 (Toll Free), or info@dr-wa.org about any concerns you have while voting.

You can file a formal complaint with the Washington Secretary of State.

  • You must get the form notarized,
  • You must send in your complaint no later than 30 days after the certification of the election,
  • Your complaint will be resolved within 90 days of the Secretary of State receiving your complaint,
  • Do your best to give all the evidence you have at the submission stage. It may be hard to add evidence later in the process,
  • Send the complaint form to:

                  The Secretary of State

                   Elections Division

                   Post Office Pox 40229

                   Olympia, WA  90504-0229

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.