West Virginia Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, 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)
  • File a complaint about voting accessibility or other violation.
  • Election Staff trained to understand the rights above.

In West Virginia, you also have the right to vote:  

  • By independently marking and casting your ballot without interference, coercion, or intimidation. 
  • In privacy and cast a secret ballot.
  • As long as you are registered, including if you have a developmental disability or a mental health disorder.
  • If you are blind, disabled, elderly, and/or unable to read or write and a poll worker confirmed your disability when you have requested assistance. You have the right to vote with a provisional ballot if your disability is questioned.
  • With an absentee ballot if you are immobile due to your age or disability.
  • With an electronic absentee ballot if you are physically disabled, unable to vote in person, at the polls, without assistance and your disability affects at least one of your major life activities.
  • With an accessible voting machine during statewide elections.
  • Curbside if you are unable to enter the polling place due to your disability and there is no voter in the polling place voting or waiting to vote.
Who can register to vote?

To register in West Virginia, you must be

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident at the address listed on your registration 

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 West Virginia, 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 West Virginia?
  • In person on Election Day (including curbside voting)
  • Absentee
    • in-person
    • by mail,
    • electronically (for voters with disability)
    • with an emergency absentee ballot
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
  • Provisional ballot at a polling place
  • Early Voting
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in West Virginia?

You may vote absentee with a valid excuse, if you have a permanent disability, an emergency arises, or you live in a supervised setting:

  • Absentee with Excuse. You must apply for each election and meet one of the following criteria to be approved: 
    • You are away due to personal or business travel.
    • You are in attendance at college, university or other place of education or training
    • You are confined due to illness, injury or other medical reason
    • You are immobile due to advanced age or a physical disability.
    • You are incarcerated or in detention in jail or home and not convicted of a felony
    • Your employment because of hours worked and distance from the county seat makes voting in person impossible
    • You are a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) with the Office of the Secretary of State
    • The county absentee voting office and your polling place are inaccessible to you due to your physical disability
    • You are required to live temporarily outside county of residence because of service as an elected or appointed state or federal officer
    • You are required to live temporarily outside county of residence because of temporary assignment by your employer for a specific period of four years or less
       
  • Permanent Disability Absentee Voting. You must have a doctor’s certification certifying you have a permanent disability and apply with your county clerk. (You do not need a doctor’s note if you are applying for regular disability voting. You only need the note if you want to always vote absentee due to disability.)

If someone helps you fill out your application for any absentee ballot, this person will sign an oath on the form. The form can be returned by mail, fax, or email.

How is the West Virginia mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • If you have a physical disability, you can request an electronic absentee ballot
    • In order to qualify you must be registered to vote in your county, not able to vote in-person because of a disability, and have a physical disability which makes it so that you can not fill out a ballot without assistance and your disability affects at least one of your major life activities.
       
  • If you are approved to use this type of absentee ballot, you will receive an email with instructions on how to receive, mark, and return your ballot.
    • You will use a web portal to access and mark your ballot. The web portal will ask for user credentials and other items to verify your identity.
    • After you finish marking your ballot you can return it by either submitting it virtually through the web portal or by mail. If you submit it by mail you will need to include a security waiver. The web portal will give you instructions on how to send back the ballot by mail.
      • You can receive assistance with sending it back by mail. Your assistant will only need to sign the form where it indicates them to do so.
    • You must apply for statewide elections 5 days before the election to use this service.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in West Virginia?

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

There will be at least one ADA-complaint voting machine at every polling place during statewide elections. For county elections, one polling place in each county must have an ADA-complaint voting machine

  • That machine will include a touch screen that is easy to navigate with little movement, braille navigation buttons, and an audio-version of the ballot.

If the polling place is not accessible, you can request curbside voting where two poll workers will bring a ballot out to your car. In order for this to be possible, no other voters can be voting or waiting to vote at your polling place. This can also be possible by the polling place being temporarily closed to allow the poll workers to help you.

  • You request to change your precinct up to 30 days before an election if your polling place is not accessible.
  • If you miss the 30 day deadline, you can vote with a provisional ballot at another more accessible polling place in the county in which you are registered.
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in West Virginia?
  • If you vote in person:
    • You may request assistance from two poll workers of different political parties 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
    • You can have assistance with someone reading your ballot to you or helping you mark your ballot.
    • To qualify for assistance, you must be blind, disabled, elderly, and/or be unable to read or write.
    • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.
    • If a poll worker finds that you are ineligible to receive assistance, you can vote with a provisional ballot. 
       
  • If you vote by absentee ballot:
    • You can receive assistance for your absentee ballot but your helper must sign your absentee ballot application.
    • If you send it in by mail, your helper must also sign the form with your ballot.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in West Virginia prior to Election Day?

You should be able to access a sample ballot and can preview and practice using accessible voting equipment. Please contact your local election official.

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in West Virginia?
  • You can get help from Disability Rights of West Virginia
    • Call 304-356-0847 (voice/tty)
       
  • You can file a formal complaint.
    • You must get the form notarized and send it to the Office of the Secretary of State State Capitol Building Charleston, WV 25305
    • You can request a hearing.
    • Your complaint will be resolved within 90 days of the Secretary of State receiving your complaint unless you agree to an extension.
    • If the Secretary of State determines that there was no violation of your rights, then you will be notified in writing. If they do find a violation, they will contact county officials or law enforcement for remedies or prosecutions.
       
  • You can contact the Secretary of State’s Office (1-866-767-8683) or your county clerk, and they will help make the polling place accessible for you.
     
  • 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.